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Replacing a Freelander 1.8 petrol timing belt

Les Henson

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The following is instructions for replacing the timing (or camshaft) belt on the 1.8i petrol engine, as fitted to a Freelander. This is the K-series engine and is fitted to various makes of car.

It's important to point out that this type of engine is known as an 'interferance engine', which means that incorrect valve timing could result in serious and possibly terminal damage to it due to valve/piston contact.

Having said that, the reasonably competent DIY machanic should be able to tackle the job, and apart from a Torque wrench, no special tools are needed. There is a timing setting tool kit available to make the job easier, but as you will see, it can be done without it.

Method is as follows:-

Slacken the drivers front wheel nuts, jack up and support the car and remove the wheel. The engine sits low in the bay, and you need to work both under the bonnet and inside the wheel arch.


The timing cover is in two pieces, The top half is held on with 5-bolts. 4 of which are 8mm head, and one at the bottom, which is 10mm. Remove the top 4 for now.


There's a soft panel inside the wheel arch that has to be removed,


Remove the three 10mm head bolts up in the recess and the panel will come away.


The lower section of the engine is now visible.


Front engine shield now (what's left of it). Two 13mm head bolts either side close to the radius arms.


Remove the two self-tapping screws that hold the lower edge of the bodywork, then remove the 4 x 13mm head bolts.



With the shield out of the way, the front of the engine is accessible.


Undo the last remaining bolt that secures the top half of the timing cover. This bolt has a collar, and is different from the other bolts. It must go back in the same hole.


With the top half of the cover out of the way, the twin camshaft sprockets, tensioner, and belt can now be seen.


The crankshaft has to be locked in order for the pully bolt to be undone. To do this, remove the steel cover, located between engine and gearbox to the right of the exhaust manifold. Remove the two bolts shown in this picture, 15mm and 17mm spanners, then the small nut & bolt right at the top (10mm spanners). The earth cable is secured on the lower of the two large bolts.


With the cover removed, the flywheel can be locked in the following fashion. Take care not to damage the ring gear.

The crank bolt requires a 22mm socket, and you will need a breaker bar, or some leverage to undo it.


The upper engine mount now has to be removed, so place a jack under the sump - it's alloy, so use a cushion of wood or similar to prevent damage.

From inside the engine bay, undo the 8mm bolt that clamps the AC pipe to a small bracket.


Carefully prise open the pipe clamp, and remove the two halves.


Remove the two 18mm bolts close to the engine, and the 18mm nut near the inner wing.


Single 15mm bolt to the left (the nut is captive)

The alloy part of the engine mounting will now come away.


From inside the wheel arch lever the belt tensioner with a 13mm socket or spanner and remove the outer belt.


To remove the alternator drive belt, slacken the centre 8mm socket head bolt a couple of turns.


Then undo the 13mm adjuster bolt to release enough tension to remove the belt.


Unscrew the crank bolt and remove the pulley. You will now see the crank sprocket that drives the timing belt.



Remove the three 8mm head bolt that secure the lower cover and remove it - one bolt is behind the tensioner wheel and is awkward to get at. 1/4 drive uj and 8mm socket got it out though.

Before the belt can be removed, the engine has to be in the timing position. Replace the crank bolt and turn the engine until the crank is in this position, with a pip either side of the central rib on the casing behind the sprocket.


The cam sprockets should look like this. If not, rotate the crank one complete turn. With the timing set, the cam sprocket marks should look like this.


It's now safe to remove the timing belt. Remove the 8mm socket head bolt in the centre of the tensioner pulley.


Then the small 8mm bolt and the tensioner will come free. Remove the belt and tensioner and discard them.



Place the new belt on the crank sprocket, and find some way of keeping it in place without damage. I used a 7mm socket to do this.


Feed the new belt up the right hand side, over the exhaust camshaft sprocket and over the inlet sprocket - making sure there are no 'lost teeth' on the way, then wrap the back of the belt over the tensioner wheel.

The tensioner has no torque figure, and finger pressure is all that's required.


Rotate the crankshaft two turns clockwise, check timing marks are correct, re-set the tensioner, and tighten the 8mm bolt to 10nm, the socket head bolt to 45nm, and once the timing cover is on - the crank bolt to 205nm, which is around 155 lbs.ft.

That's it - reassemble in reverse order.

Couple of things - there are two different belts, one for manual tensioner, and one for automatic tensioner. The one shown in this thread is the manual type.

It's very important that the timing is correct with this engine. Check timing mark alignment before rotating the engine, as there's a possibilty you could damage some of the valves.

The left hand camshaft (inlet) is on the peak of a cam lobe when it's in the timing position, it can easily fall over, so be careful.

Les. :)

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That is all very familiar territory having done the one on mothers Rover, sandbag's Rover and the 2.0 diesel in my Freelander (almost idential in most respects). Rather you than me Les but, as you say, easy enough - if rather fiddly. The Freelender 2.0diesel has a second timing belt on the other end of the cam, just to keep you on your toes. :)


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