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Old 10-07-2019, 09:11 PM   #1
Crasoum
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Default 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0 V6 81L

I am trying to change the timing belt on a Vue 2003 V6 3.0l (I believe) 81L, the timing belt for the cams is perfectly in time with one another, but 2 teeth off from the crank. I figure the crank jumped time somehow, but whatever. Would an OK step be to set the cams to the timing marks (since they are all lined up together) and rotate the crank back a little?

Also
I went looking for a cam locking tool kit for the engine, but they all talk about vin R for the tool, and this car's 8th vin is B (5GZCZ53B03S). Is the otc 6687 the same locking tool for the 2003 3.0l V6 vue as the 2001-2007 3.0L Vin R used in saturn L300 & LW300?

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Old 10-08-2019, 08:55 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0 V6 81L

The cam lock and crankshaft locking tool kit are available for dealer, repair shop and anyone needing it. Buying the cam lock tool alone may be a low cost way to save on tools used once or twice for the diyer but isn't needed. If you search past threads on Vues and the L-series forums, you may see examples of diyers buying the cam and crankshaft locking tools or examples (with snapshots) of imagination using plastic wire ties, carriage bolts and fender washers or plain vise grips. All successfully used in timing belt replacement.

Descriptions described in service manuals stipulate using cam and crankshaft locking tools to allow mechanics to make servicing easier. Unfortunately, no mention is made of everyone else not using cam and crankshaft locking tools and the consequences of mistakes. Here is where basic 4-stroke fundamentals may help to re-time engines.

In your situation, if all four camshafts are timed correctly to the cam cover timing marks but the crankshaft is off a little, you should be able to lock camshafts with two vise grips, each one grabbing two cam gears where they are closest together to prevent valve springs from rotating camshafts. The belt tensioner(s) can be loosened to dismount the timing belt so allow you to rotate the crankshaft (forward or reverse) a few degrees before interference occurs between pistons and valves. This presumes the crankshaft timing mark is off only a few teeth.

If you choose to do this to correct timing, be sure the four camshafts are locked in place to ensure none rotate when the timing belt is slack.

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Old 10-09-2019, 11:53 AM   #3
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0 V6 81L

After futzing with the engine, the tool is indeed the right one for a B VIN engine. I bought a knock-off and had problems lining up the teeth with the tool.

My tool is just over on the tolerance from the manufacturer, so cheap tools cheap results. For anyone else searching don't buy the cheapo eBay one without some hair to pull out, but it will interface; barely. The crank locking tool hole for it is off center though, for my usage so there's that too.

So I misphrased my first post, the crank is 2 teeth behind the cams, so looks like it's still going from BTDC to TDC, while the cams are TDC/at the 12 o'clock position. So from what I've read that is fine. Probably. Can't be worse once I line everything up as long as I don't decide to try starting it with the cams locked and crank unlocked...


I personally don't like the vice grip idea, but the cams don't look to be sintered metal like a Mitsubishi I've worked on. Are they drop forged?

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Old 10-14-2019, 10:54 AM   #4
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0 V6 81L

More information for anyone who might stumble across this post in the future. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFWt...F4J1SXvtuXyAnw has a pretty good video going over fixing this engine. It's a General Motors 54 V6 engine / L81 video is for a Cadillac CTS but is the same as a 2002/2003 Vue

J 42069 / J42069 / OTC 6687 / OTC6687 / OTC-6687 are the locking tool kits you can buy to lock the cams.

Make sure if you have some type of damage on the timing cover, that the damage doesn't interfere with the timing belt, this might seem like a duh comment, but it will shred your new belt if it's in the belt path. Like so.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/1wema0q6dw...53.21.jpg?dl=0

And that came from this https://www.dropbox.com/s/zan5m5qr1k...36.38.jpg?dl=0

Last edited by Crasoum; 10-14-2019 at 11:00 AM.. Reason: Adding keywords.

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Old 10-15-2019, 09:04 AM   #5
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0 V6 81L

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
The cam lock and crankshaft locking tool kit are available for dealer, repair shop and anyone needing it. Buying the cam lock tool alone may be a low cost way to save on tools used once or twice for the diyer but isn't needed. If you search past threads on Vues and the L-series forums, you may see examples of diyers buying the cam and crankshaft locking tools or examples (with snapshots) of imagination using plastic wire ties, carriage bolts and fender washers or plain vise grips. All successfully used in timing belt replacement.

Descriptions described in service manuals stipulate using cam and crankshaft locking tools to allow mechanics to make servicing easier. Unfortunately, no mention is made of everyone else not using cam and crankshaft locking tools and the consequences of mistakes. Here is where basic 4-stroke fundamentals may help to re-time engines.

In your situation, if all four camshafts are timed correctly to the cam cover timing marks but the crankshaft is off a little, you should be able to lock camshafts with two vise grips, each one grabbing two cam gears where they are closest together to prevent valve springs from rotating camshafts. The belt tensioner(s) can be loosened to dismount the timing belt so allow you to rotate the crankshaft (forward or reverse) a few degrees before interference occurs between pistons and valves. This presumes the crankshaft timing mark is off only a few teeth.

If you choose to do this to correct timing, be sure the four camshafts are locked in place to ensure none rotate when the timing belt is slack.
wait... this motor has FOUR camshafts??

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Old 10-16-2019, 11:13 AM   #6
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0 V6 81L

Yes, four camshafts used in GMs 3.0L V6 engine. Each cylinder bank of three cylinders in a V6 configuration has its own intake and exhaust camshafts. I'm not certain if this applies to Honda 3.5L V6 engines.

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Old 10-16-2019, 02:43 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0 V6 81L

So am I just missing something, or is the spacer for the eccentric pulley which has replaced the concentric pulley, a larger spacer than the one originally between cam 4 and the crankshaft?

I went through belt one thinking it was my timing cover. Replaced the belt, put on a second belt and had rubbing there too. Replacing the spacer with the spacer I had behind the top eccentric pulley on the old bracket fixed it, and it seems to rotate as intended now.

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Old 10-17-2019, 11:41 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0 V6 81L

Service manuals mentions three different idlers. The left idler is spring loaded and adjusted for overall belt tension. The remaining two idlers, depending on engine serial numbers, have either one eccentric and on fixed idler or both eccentric idlers. The eccentric idlers allows finer timing adjustment. And last but not in the least, one of the two idlers has a thicker spacer washer than the other. There's also a directive that one torx bolt is gray and the other black, possibly one longer than the other to accommodate the thicker washer/spacer behind the idler.

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Old 10-18-2019, 01:06 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0 V6 81L

Yea, the idler between the 4th cam and the crank used to be fixed, or concentric and the AC delco kit I used replaced the top bracket with the tensioner and a eccentric, and the bottom idler between cam 4 and the crank with an eccentric. The old spacer for the bottom pulley was smaller. I'm not sure if it was the person in it before me, or not.

Problem is solved, I used the bigger spacer for the bottom pulley. Belt tracks as it should. Reading threads and watching videos I didn't see any reference to which spacer went where. I did see a video where the bigger spacer was used for the bottom, but it was not mentioned. Everyone pretty much says "Use the spacer with the kit, or the spacer from the vehicle if one isn't included from the kit." I only mention it here in case someone stumbles across it in a google search or randomly poking through the forums.

The kit came with a new torx bolt, black. Same thread length as the grey one, but the grey torx had a smooth end/tip in addition to the threads to help align the hole for the idler before threading.

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Old 10-18-2019, 02:09 PM   #10
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0 V6 81L

'And/or'.......... in my previous post. My tablet likes to substitute words if I don't review every sentence before hitting 'SUBMIT'

The different spacer thicknesses are the little details left out in posts and I'm one of them. Although I paid attention to the idlers and which one has the thicker spacer, I missed on timing. This clearly puts me in the pool of diyers not paying attention.

My timing belt kit did not include spacers. It did include four camshaft seals that I had no intention of replacing (no seal leaks). After reviewing several threads for snapshots as guides, I still read my service manual several times. For whatever reason, even if it's my lack of ability to absorb new info in a timely fashion, I was still confused on the explanation of adjusting the spring loaded idler until I had my dirty hands on loosening the lock nut. The 'aha' moment came forth as I played with it to understand which idler is eccentrically adjusted for permanent take up of slack and how the spring loaded idler is adjusted for the return side of belt slack. None of this was explained in service manual descriptions. I remember back in the Neanderthal age when one 2-3 inch service manual explained procedures with explanations on describing mechanical timing in 4-stroke engines, how timing correlates crankshaft to overhead valves and when incorrect timing results in damage with a black and white exclamation mark inside a triangle. Older service manuals had line drawings, photo illustrations and snapshots of crucial items so a person is able to see a real view of things before getting hands dirty. GM service manuals presently used leave a lot to be desired with only basic drawings to go by. I think this was a poor tradeoff even though older vehicles had zero electronics and virtually every vehicle in the world are packed with electronics requiring extensive descriptions of every error code, diagnosing/troubleshooting electronics issues than mechanical problems like timing belts or chains.

Last edited by fdryer; 10-18-2019 at 02:15 PM..

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Old 10-19-2019, 12:25 AM   #11
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0 V6 81L

Yea this car, I couldn't get the crank bolt off even reefing on it with a 3/4" impact with 1/2" hose, 3/8" couplers, and 90 PSI with the impact running. After liquid Wrench, heating it up, hitting it with the impact, trying to bump start it off, and a good mix of the things previously mentioned, in various orders.

I figured screw it, the owner will just have to keep dumping oil into the thing until it dies.

It sucked for HOURS trying to get to the front main seal. Past that seal, the job was pretty ok, other then shredding a belt. I was lucky the owner told me ASAP when he heard weird noises.


Yea, the various things that get lost in translation is massive. Even with youtube and videos I've found MAYBE 2 good videos on the L81 engine. The Vue is rarely part of the title so I went back until I could find sister engines and poke through those, and months ago I didn't even see some of the videos so sometimes searching is just a matter of stumbling on the right video/keyword combo. That's why I try and use decent keywords others might stumble upon so even if someone thinks I'm a dumbass, I can at least be a helpful one to someone in the future.

I was lucky with my timing I guess, I used a tight fitting toolkit (which did suck in it's own right) but routing the belt with the toolkit was pretty simple after everything was fit. Adjusted the tensioner, adjusted the eccentric pulleys to be taut, torqued to spec, checked timing with the jig, pulled the cam/crank locks, spun the crank twice, checked with the jig again, also checked the tensioner and pulleys as well as torque specs. Spun it a few more times. Started it and ran it for a minute, then reset it to check alignment and pulleys one last time and put it back together.

I figure do it right the first time, or do it twice. I took the second option, twice (for good luck...)

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Old 10-19-2019, 09:16 PM   #12
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0 V6 81L

Ive done a few 3.0 belts. I picked up one that had a botched timing belt job. All the intake valves were bent. It had 2 new idlers but 1 old one. So I replaced that one. Bites you have to install head bolts and than cams. Makes you sorry you did not mark the 4 cam sprockets you removed from cams. Lesson learned. I found lots of good pics online. No manual was used. It had 2 new cats so I had to try and fix it.

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