The timing belt is the only thing preventing all of the engine’s moving parts from slamming into each other in interference engines. As such, keeping track of your P1 Volvo timing belt’s health is a critical part of being a vehicle owner. Typically, manufacturers will recommend a belt change every 80,000 to 100,000 miles. Volvo’s P1 chassis’ transverse engine layout makes the timing belt job tricky as the front of the engine is up against the passenger’s side frame rail. The camshafts need to be locked into place, and accurate marks have to be made to ensure that nothing inside the engine slips out of position.
A timing belt change is not a job for beginners. Along with the job’s moderately stressful nature, you need a few specialty tools to complete it. Accuracy is key, and one misstep could mean a broken engine. Follow along with this DIY to ensure that the job gets completed correctly the first time around.
Volvo models and years applicable:
What will it cost to replace the timing belt on a P1 chassis Volvo?
The cost of the comprehensive timing belt kit we offer is $235. The kit includes all of the necessary seals, gaskets, and belts required for the job. Also included in the kit is a new water pump. Changing the water pump is a great “While you’re in there” job that doesn’t take very long to change with everything out of the way.
Having a dealership or independent shop do the job for you will be costly. Their parts will cost more, and the labor will be several hours long. Expect to pay upwards of $1200 for the job in total.
Additionally, we suggest resealing the oil pump. Like the water pump, everything that needs to be removed to access the oil pump will be out of the way. Four bolts hold the oil pump onto the engine, and the reseal kit costs $30. The oil pumps are common leak points that can be taken care of easily.
How long will it take to replace the timing belt on a P1 chassis Volvo?
Changing the timing belt is not an easy job, nor is it a short job. During several steps along the way, you can cause significant damage to your engine. Apply the utmost care during the job, and you should triple check your timing after reassembling everything. Put aside at least a full day afternoon to ensure there are no leaks, and it all goes back together as it should.
Parts required to replace the timing belt on a P1 chassis Volvo:
Tools required to replace the timing belt on a P1 chassis Volvo:
- Ratchet Set
- Ratchet Extensions
- Torque Wrench
- Impact Gun
- 7mm Socket
- 8mm Socket
- 10mm Socket
- 12mm Socket
- 13mm Socket
- 15mm Socket
- 16mm Socket
- 19mm Socket
- 30mm Socket
- 12mm Wrench
- 10mm Wrench
- T25 Bit Socket
- T30 Bit Socket
- T50 Bit Socket
- T55 Bit Socket
- 5mm Allen Wrench
- 6mm Allen Wrench
- Volvo Camshaft Seal Installation Tool
- Silicone Sealant
Steps required to replace the timing belt on a P1 chassis Volvo:
Step 1: Uncover the top of the engine
First up, you need to remove the intake tube. Start by using a 7mm socket or flathead screwdriver to loosen the hose clamps on the intake tube. Then use a 10mm socket to remove the two intake tube mounting bolts tucked behind the tube. Finally, disconnect the vacuum line that sits in the bend of the tube.
Pull the tube out of the engine bay and set it aside. There is a small section of vacuum lines that route to the right side of the engine.
Squeeze the sides of the connections on the vacuum pump and the firewall before pulling them off to remove them. Push in on the red part of the last connection and then pull the hose out of it.
Next, use a T25 socket to remove the mass airflow sensor housing from the air filter housing. Unplug the wiring harness from the sensor before removing it from the car.
After that, remove the ignition coil cover from the cylinder head. Use a T30 socket or wrench to remove the six bolts for the cover. Then pull the cover off. Use the same T30 for the two bolts that secure the plastic cover that sits around the oil filler cap.
Slide the cover forward slightly and then pull it off of the engine. The camshaft sprockets are now exposed and can be checked for oil. Examine the back of the sprockets and the metal surfaces around them for any oil residue. Any present residue has likely come from the camshaft seals and will require replacement. The timing belt kit used in this DIY includes the proper camshaft seals.
Next, remove the plastic camshaft sprocket guard from the engine. The shield is clipped to the engine on either side. Undo the clips and then sneak the shield past the sprockets.
Lastly, pull the coolant expansion tank out of its mounting grommets and lay it across the top of the engine. Pop the lines out of their clips for more room to move it.
Step 2: Gain access to the front of the engine
In vehicles with transversely mounted engines like Volvos, the front of the engine faces the passenger’s side of the engine bay. To get to the front of the engine, you’ll need to remove the wheel and fender liner.
Jack up the car and place it onto jack stands. Then, use a 19mm socket to remove the lug nuts and the wheel. Next, use a T25 socket or wrench to remove the eight fasteners of the fender liner’s outer edge.
Then, use a 10mm socket to remove the to nuts on the back of the fender liner on either side of the strut.
Gently pull the fender liner out of the fender and away from the chassis. With the engine now exposed, use a 30mm socket on an impact wrench to check that the nut for the crankshaft pulley will come off. Spin it back on once it comes loose.
Step 3: Further expose the engine
Use a T50 socket to remove the tension from the A/C belt tensioner so you can remove the belt.
Now you can remove the crankshaft pulley nut for good and remove the crankshaft pulley itself. Use a 10mm socket to remove the four smaller bolts. Hit the pulley with a dead-blow mallet if it doesn’t want to come off easily. Wiggle the pulley back and forth while pulling on it to pull it off of the crankshaft snout.
Get under the car and remove the six fasteners for the plastic splash shield with a T25 socket or wrench. Then, remove the u-shaped plastic underbody panel that tucks into the bumper. Use a T25 socket or wrench to remove the two fasteners that secure it into the bottom of the bumper. Then, push it forward to pop it out of the tabs that secure it to the radiator support.
Now, use a set of channel locks to reach up to the bottom of the radiator and loosen its drain. Have a drain pan positioned below to catch all of the coolant. Loosen the cap on the expansion tank to allow the coolant to drain out as quickly as it can.
Take the floor jack and place a block of wood onto it. Then, raise the jack to support the front/passenger’s side of the engine. Next, head into the engine bay and use a 15mm socket to remove the engine mount from the front of the engine.
The coolant expansion tank should be nearly empty at this point. Use pliers to remove the hose clamp on the large feed line, allowing you to separate the line from the tank. Lay the tank over the radiator to give yourself more space.
Below the upper engine-mount is the front timing cover. Use a T30 socket or wrench to remove the bolt that secures the cover to the front of the engine. Pull the cover out of the way once you remove the bolt.
Step 4: Lock the camshafts in place
Use an 8mm socket to remove the bolts that secure the ignition coil harness to the cylinder head. Then, follow the harness along the top of the cylinder head. Unplug the sensor on top of each camshaft and all five of the ignition coils. Remove the two ground wires with an 8mm socket. Push the harness as far out of the way as you can once everything has been disconnected.
To the right of the ignition coil harness is a bracket with an electrical connection on it. Lift the white lock on the connection to separate the plugs. Remove the bolt below the connection with a 13mm socket. Then, remove the line that mounts to the bottom of the bracket with an 8mm socket. Finally, remove the bracket’s last bolt with a 16mm socket.
Remove the electrical connection from the bracket and move the bracket out of the way.
The back of each camshaft is covered with a thin steel plug. Use a punch or flathead screwdriver with a hammer to pierce through the covers and pry them off. Cover the area below the covers with rags as oil will come out.
Mounted to the back of the camshafts are the sensor wheels for the camshaft position sensors. Use a T30 socket or wrench to remove them from the camshafts. Be gentle but firm when loosening the fasteners; they will strip fairly easily.
The sensor wheels are specific to their respective camshafts. Mark them accordingly, so you aren’t confused during reassembly.
Now swing around to the front of the engine and put the 30mm nut back onto the crankshaft. Using a ratchet with the 30mm socket, rotate the engine to the right until the little bump on the timing sprocket lines up with the bump on the oil pump.
Now, take a sharpie and make some timing marks on the top of the engine. Mark the front of each cam sprocket and create a corresponding mark on the valve cover, just behind the cam sprocket.
The back of each camshaft will have a line cut through it, and they should be relatively close to perfectly horizontal. Insert the CTA 2864 tool into the back of the camshaft and lock it in using the supplied hardware. Use a 12mm socket to tighten the two bolts that secure the CTA tool into the camshafts.
The last piece of the camshaft locking tool sits over the valve cover to hold the two pieces in place. Use a 5mm Allen wrench or socket to tighten down the bolt.
Step 5: Remove the timing components
Using a 10mm wrench, reach down and loosen the bolt for the timing belt tensioner. Loosening the bolt will remove the tension from the tensioner, allowing you to pull the belt off.
Next, remove the camshaft sprockets. Use a T55 socket to remove the camshaft bolt plug from the center of the sprocket. Then, use the same socket to remove the camshaft bolt.
Wiggle the sprocket back and forth to remove it from the camshaft after removing the camshaft sprocket bolt.
Below the right-side cam sprocket is a timing belt idler. Use a 10mm socket to remove the two bolts that secure it to the engine. Thread the idler bolts back into the engine, so you know where they are when it comes time for reassembly.
Step 6: Reseal the oil pump
First, remove the two bolts holding the lower plastic cover to the oil pump with a 10mm socket.
Then use a puller tool to remove the timing sprocket from the front of the engine.
Use a T30 bit socket to remove the four bolts that secure the oil pump to the engine. Place rags under the oil pump to catch any oil that may come out. Then, use a flathead screwdriver to pry on the tabs around the edge of the oil pump.
Head over to our workbench to work on the oil pump. Start by removing the green gasket from the back of the pump. Then remove the old o-ring that sits around the pump.
Finally, pry out the old crankshaft seal using a small prybar or flathead screwdriver. Use a clean rag to wipe down the oil pump. Then, install the new crankshaft seal. Seat the new seal in the oil pump and drive it down with a 30mm socket and a dead blow mallet.
Next, slide the new o-ring onto the pump and follow that up with the new green gasket.
Put two of the T30 oil pump bolts through the pump to hold the gasket in place while installing the pump. Then, slide the oil pump over the crankshaft and thread in its four bolts. Use a T30 socket to torque the bolts to 10Nm.
Watch the crankshaft seal to ensure that it doesn’t roll over itself while installing the oil pump. Dab some oil onto the teeth of the crankshaft and slide the timing sprocket back onto it. The sprocket only sits on the crankshaft in one orientation. Line up the double-wide tooth on the crankshaft with the slot in the pulley and drive the pulley on with a mallet.
Refit the plastic cover beneath the oil pump and fasten the bolts down with a 10mm socket.
Step 7: Reinstall the timing components
Take the new timing belt tensioner and install it onto the engine block through the wheel well. Thread in the bolt by hand and stop there. You’ll tighten it down after you install the new timing belt.
Ensure that the tab on the back of the tensioner is locked into the engine block tab.
Next, remove the bolts from the timing belt idler thread and install the new idler. Use a 10mm socket to tighten these bolts down.
Before you can reinstall the cam sprockets, you’ll need to replace the camshaft seals. Use a hook pick to get on the inside of the seals and pull them out.
Place the new camshaft seal onto the installation tool. Then, press the seal and tool around the camshaft. Use a dead-blow mallet to drive the seal in or insert and thread in the camshaft sprocket bolt to press in the seal. Use a T55 socket to drive in the sprocket bolts.
Next, reinstall the exhaust camshaft sprocket to the camshaft. Line up the timing marks you made on the sprocket to the ones on the valve cover. Then thread the bolt in and tighten it down with a T55 socket—torque the bolt to 120Nm.
Reinstall the engine mount bracket before installing the other camshaft sprocket. Install the long 13mm bolt on the lower side hole and install the long 10mm bolt above it. Then install the 13mm bolts at the front of the bracket. Tighten all of the bolts down once they’ve all been threaded in.
Then install the intake-side camshaft sprocket using the same method used for the exhaust-side. If the cam sprockets’ timing marks are all lined up, go ahead and install the new timing belt.
Route the belt around everything and then tighten down the tensioner almost all of the way. Then, use a 6mm Allen wrench to pre-tension the tensioner. Insert the wrench into the hole next to the mounting bolt and rotate it to the right. A bump behind the roller moves in correspondence with how much tension you put on the tensioner. Once that bump is in the middle of the tensioner locking tab, tighten the mounting bolt down for good using a 12mm socket.
Now check the timing to make sure everything is still aligned. Use a 12mm wrench to remove the cam locks from the backs of the camshafts and a 6mm Allen wrench to remove the lock for the cam locks.
Thread on the 30mm nut to the crankshaft and use a 30mm socket to rotate the engine over once. If any of the marks are out of position, remove the tension from the tensioner, and start again. If everything lines up, install the cam sprocket bolt caps with a T55 bit socket. Torque the plugs to 35Nm.
Next, reinstall the cam position sensor wheels onto the back of the camshafts. Position the wheels on the backs of the camshafts and then thread in their bolts. Use a T30 bit socket to torque the bolts to 20Nm.
Place the new rear cam seals into the back of the cylinder head and tap them in with a dead-blow mallet.
Step 8: Button up the engine bay
Reposition the black bracket that bolts to the back of the cylinder head. Thread in the top 13mm bolt before threading in the bottom 16mm bolt. Then, reattach any electrical connections for this bracket that you may have separated. Lastly, reconnect the line that attaches to the bottom of the bracket. Use an 8m socket to tighten down that line.
Next, reattach the ignition coil harness to the cylinder head. Use an 8mm socket to tighten down the two bolts securing the bracket.
Go along the ignition coil harness and plug every connection back in. Start with the cam position sensors and work your way towards the front of the engine. Use an 8mm socket to tighten down the bolts for the ground wires on the harness.
Head to the front of the engine and reattach the lower outer timing cover. Slide it down from the top of the engine and then head into the wheel well to get it into position. Use a T30 bit socket to fasten the single bolt that secures it to the engine.
Next, slot the upper outer timing cover into the lower one. A tab on each bottom corner will fit into the lower cover. Then fit the top of the timing cover over the belt and onto the cylinder head.
Use a T30 bit socket to tighten the two bolts that secure the top cover to the cylinder head. After that, refit the upper engine mount. Get the mount situated and then thread in the two mount-to-engine bolts. Place the support brace over the engine mount and then thread in the two mount-to-chassis bolts.
Finally, reconnect the feed line to the expansion tank and set the expansion tank back into the side of the engine bay. Clip all of the coolant lines back into place, too.
Step 9: Button up the wheel well
Remove the 30mm nut from the crankshaft and install the crankshaft pulley. Thread the big nut back on and then install the four 10mm bolts around it. Use an impact wrench to tighten the center nut.
Next, use a T50 bit socket to move the A/C belt tensioner aside so you can install the A/C belt. Ensure that all of the ribs on the belt are seated on the two pulleys.
The fender liner can now be refitted to the wheel well. Position the liner in the wheel well with the top of it tucked behind the fender flare. Then, position the inside on the two studs on both sides of the strut.
First, install the nuts onto the studs. Use a T25 bit socket or wrench to install the eight fasteners for the fender liner’s edge. Use a 10mm socket to tighten down the nuts.
Next, fit the lower radiator underbody panel into the bumper. Clip the back of the panel into the lower radiator support and fasten the front of the panel to the bumper with a T25 bit socket.
After that, refit the plastic splash shield to the bottom of the car. Slide the back of the shield into the chassis’ tabs and then secure it with its six T25 fasteners.
Step 10: Refit the intake
Before refitting the intake, reinstall the ignition coil cover to the valve cover. Slide it into the upper timing cover and then secure it to the valve cover with a T30 bit socket or wrench.
Next, fit the mass airflow housing into the airbox and use a T25 bit socket or wrench to secure it down. Plug the wiring harness into the mass airflow sensor once you tighten down the housing. Then, refit the intake tube. Use a 10mm socket to tighten the mounting bolts, and use a 7mm socket to tighten the intake hose clamps.
Finally, install the vacuum lines around the intake tube.
Step 11: Refill the coolant system
Open the coolant reservoir and fill it with coolant. Then start the vehicle to allow the coolant to cycle through and push out any air. Add more coolant to keep it at the full line as the coolant level recedes in the expansion tank.
Let the vehicle run for ten to fifteen minutes to ensure that the thermostat has opened and coolant is getting through the entire engine. Once bubbles appear in the expansion tank, your coolant system has bled itself, and you can shut the car off. Refit the expansion tank cap afterward.
Volvo P1 Timing Belt Replacement Torque Specs:
- Volvo Oil Pump Bolts = 10Nm or 7.4 ft-lbs of torque
- Volvo Camshaft Sprocket Bolts = 120Nm or 88.5 ft-lbs of torque
- Volvo Camshaft Sprocket Plugs = 35Nm 26 ft-lbs of torque
- Volvo Camshaft Position Sensor Wheel = 20Nm or 14.8 ft-lbs of torque
Fifteen minutes in and out, right? Pat yourself on the back and revel in the sounds of a functioning engine if you’ve made it to the end. Enjoy the next 100,000 miles of peace of mind knowing your timing belt and oil pump are fresh and healthy. If you’re interested in more DIYs for your Volvo, you can visit volvo.fcpeuro.com and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Owner of a flat-six swapped 1998 Impreza 2.5RS and a 1973 Porsche 914. Horizontally opposed views, only.