Freelander Timing Belts

Here’s a fun one:  a Land Rover Freelander’s timing belts.  This engine is a 2.5L double-overhead cam with three (count them:  three) timing belts.  Moreover these should be serviced every 60,000 miles or so.  Since this engine is an interference design if a timing belt breaks or slips you will have internal (expensive) engine damage.

Although this is probably a service that can be done without special tools we don’t recommend it.  The key to getting the job right, as with any timing belt service, is to mark everything.  If you mark the old belt, transfer the marks to the new belt, and get the new belt on exactly where the old one was you’ve obviously got the new belt on correctly.  It is easy to get off by a tooth though so count twice and install the belt once.  Any timing belt job done this way can get scary and if you find you cannot get things back where they belong you then have to have the correct tools to align the engine.

Timing Tool Kit:

Freelander Timing Belt Tool Kit

Starting Point – air filter housing removed.

Freelander Timing Belt Starting Point

Serpentine Belt:

Freelander Serpentine Belt Removal

Note that you cannot fully remove the serpentine belt without removing the ‘front’ engine mount seen here below the alternator.  What this means is, if your serpentine belt is even slightly worn you’re smart to replace it while doing the timing belt since the labor completely overlaps.


Next Step:  Remove Upper Intake

Freelander Intake Removed

Note that when removing the upper intake it can feel like it has gotten stuck and you’ll go hunting for hidden bolts underneathe the back side or something.  Most likely it is just stuck on the large green o-rings you see in this picture.  Also note the shop-rags inserted into the intake runners.  We do this to protect the engine from something falling down into the intake.  Even a small bolt dropped in the wrong place here could ruin the engine.

Freelander Upper Intake O-Rings

Next step is to be sure our engine is in the ‘safe’ position:

Freelander Crankshaft Safe Position

The camera angle makes it look like these marks are mis-aligned but when viewed from directly in front of the harmonic balancer the marks line up perfectly.

To keep the crankshaft in the safe position you use your first tool from the tool kit to lock the crank:

Freelander Flywheel Lock Tool

Not easy to see here and not easy to install but here is the tool – once this is installed the engine is locked.  You’re probably wise to disconnect the negative battery terminal at this point since someone hitting the starter motor at this point could be very bad!

Here’s the flywheel tool from futher back:

Freelander Flywheel Lock Tool Installed

Here’s the front belt coming off / notice we still mark belts at our shop even when we have the alignment tools.

Right Side Cylinder Head:

Freelander Right Side Front Camshaft

And the left side:

Freelander Left Side Front Camshaft

To replace the front belt you need to remove hydraulic tensioner assembly and lock it.  The tool kit comes with a pin for this but really any pin would work.  Before remove the tensioner we recommend you remove the idler pulley on the left side of the engine – this will slacken the tension on the tensioner and make it easier to remove.  Land Rover recommends that if the tensioner bolts are too tight you should soak them in some type of penitrating oil.  If this does happen it is also recommended that you replace the bolts.

Next you can pull the old belt off, partially install the new belt, and then align it.  Before installing the new belt be sure to inspect the tensioner and idler pulley and replace them if they are even slightly questionable.  Also check the hydraulic tensioner for any signs of leakage – again play it safe and replace it if it’s even slightly questionable.

Putting the front belt back on we use the upper alignment tool to ensure everything is aligned correctly:

Freelander Front Cam Lock Tool

The tool kit comes with two of these tools so that you can lock both front cams at once.

Once the front belt is back on and you’re satisfied that it is aligned correctly it is now time to tackle the rear belts.

Freelander Rear Timing Belt

Above is the front cylinder bank’s rear timing belt.  Notice that it doesn’t have any tensioner assembly.  To replace it first mark both cam pulleys and the belt then remove both pulleys and the belt as an assembly.

The rear cylinder bank is a little harder to deal with but take your time and be sure you have your timing belt marked:

Freelander Rear Cam Timing Belt

Here’s the front bank with the alignment tool installed and the intake cam mark showing:

Freelander Rear Cam Timing Lock Tool Installed

Here’s the new belt installed on the pullies before installing back on the engine:

Freelander Rear Timing Belt Installation

The tool kit comes with nice ‘pegs’ that you put into the cam bolt holes.  You can then slide the cams in place using the ‘pegs’ as guides.  BUT – here’s one of the trickiest parts of the whole process:  the EXHAUST CAM WILL HAVE MOVED and you’ll have to roll it back to get the cam pulley back on.  With the tool kit there is a bolt on the front lock tool that allows you to turn the exhaust cam with a wrench – without this we recommend using a chain wrench over the large smoother outer section of the exhaust cam to allow you leverage to roll it back.  BE VERY CAREFUL!

The rest, as they say, is simply the reverse of removal.

Once all belts are on remove the flywheel lock and roll the engine a few times then recheck all alignment marks to be sure everything is aligned.  Then reassemble the engine.  Once starting the engine if you get any abnormal noises shut it down immediately and recheck everything.  If you get a check-engine light on recheck your timing and read the computer error codes to see what it is complaining about.

Like every timing belt job it just takes cautious work and double/triple checking everything.