The Lexus was due for a new timing belt and water pump so I decided to tackle it on my own and save the $400 or so that I would have paid for labor at one of the local independent shops. (I’m a total DIY’er geek too.) There was a pretty good post about how to do it over at my.is and I just wanted to add a couple comments based on my experiences here.
1. The crank bolt is hard to get off, but all you need is a 22mm deep socket and a big cheater bar if you have a manual transmission. Just put it in 5th gear, pull the emergency brake, and pull really hard. One tip is to wrap a pillow in a garbage bag and put it where your cheater bar might hit the fender in case you aren’t able to stop pulling in time.
2. The timing belt tensioner can be compressed with a bench vise, but make sure you put the pin and rubber seal on the right way. I had it backwards the first time which isn’t apparent until you try to put it back in the car.
3. I marked the old timing belt so I knew how many teeth were between the camshaft gears and the crankshaft gear. That helped me put the new one on correctly the first time. (The second time I wasn’t so lucky… see number nine below.)
6. You don’t need to pull the power steering pump like it says in the service manual. You just need to remove the power steering pump bracket out of the way so you can access one of the timing belt cover bolts.
7. I bought the Toyota Extra Long Life coolant. It was friggin’ $23 compared to the Prestone universal kind at $12. I didn’t think it was going to be that much more but oh well… I guess it’s not a big deal if you just change it once every 100,000 miles. (Tip: the parts guys said the “super” long life coolant is the same as the long life, just pre-mixed with water so you don’t have to dilute it yourself.)
8. Make sure you engage the number 2 water bypass pipe when you install the water pump. I missed it the first time and didn’t realize it until I was almost done buttoning it up and realized I had 2 extra nuts that didn’t have a home. Doh! That really sucked as I had to tear everything apart to fix the problem.
9. Make sure your timing belt position stays true after you release the tensioner. (I would release the tensioner before you put anything back on and count the teeth between pulleys again.) I had thought everything was fine until I put the crank pulley back on and found out that I was off by a tooth. Doh! Had to take a few steps back (again) as a result.