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Old 12-28-2009, 09:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default DIY Crankshaft Bolt Removal

Hey guys, reporting back after 3+ hours in the garage re-seating my timing belt, one of the camshaft sprockets was off a tooth or two, and the engine was wobbling just a bit when idling. (My friends didn't notice and called me crazy, but it was there. Really.)

One of the trickiest parts when a buddy and I replaced my timing belt this summer was removing the crankshaft pulley bolt, since we didn't have a chain wrench, nor the preferred tool to hold the pulley in place. We ended up MacGyver-ing it with a breaker bar, hammer, length of rope, and two 3in socket extensions.

This afternoon, I was by myself, and had heard on another forum of an interesting way to break the bolt loose. Simply extend the length of a breaker bar using a piece of pipe, set the far end of the pipe on the ground, and MAKE SURE that the bar is on the driver's side and ratchets when lowered (CW), but snags when pulled up (CCW). Then, all you have to do is bump the starter once or twice, and it's loose!

I know this is probably a common method, but I hadn't heard of it until last night, and I thought it was pretty cool. Hope this helps fellow DIY-er's.

(In case you're curious, the re-seating went well, and the engine now runs flawlessly. I couldn't be happier with it!)
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Old 12-29-2009, 11:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY Crankshaft Bolt Removal

Quote:
Originally posted by littleodie914
Hey guys, reporting back after 3+ hours in the garage re-seating my timing belt, one of the camshaft sprockets was off a tooth or two, and the engine was wobbling just a bit when idling. (My friends didn't notice and called me crazy, but it was there. Really.)

One of the trickiest parts when a buddy and I replaced my timing belt this summer was removing the crankshaft pulley bolt, since we didn't have a chain wrench, nor the preferred tool to hold the pulley in place. We ended up MacGyver-ing it with a breaker bar, hammer, length of rope, and two 3in socket extensions.

This afternoon, I was by myself, and had heard on another forum of an interesting way to break the bolt loose. Simply extend the length of a breaker bar using a piece of pipe, set the far end of the pipe on the ground, and MAKE SURE that the bar is on the driver's side and ratchets when lowered (CW), but snags when pulled up (CCW). Then, all you have to do is bump the starter once or twice, and it's loose!

I know this is probably a common method, but I hadn't heard of it until last night, and I thought it was pretty cool. Hope this helps fellow DIY-er's.

(In case you're curious, the re-seating went well, and the engine now runs flawlessly. I couldn't be happier with it!)
That's one way to do it. . . .
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Old 12-29-2009, 01:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Nice job! That's how I remove almost all crank bolts if I'm working in my garage. I've had a few Toyotas that wouldn't budge even with the biggest air I could use.

I had to use the "traditional" method with my wife's Honda since the engine spins CCW and the threading on the bolt wasn't reversed. It took a custom 5 foot breaker with me hanging off the end of it to get it loose. When it finally went it sounded like the whole **** car snapped in half. There were a lot of stares around the garage until I verified it was just the bolt coming free and not something much more expensive
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Old 12-29-2009, 03:26 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by #define
Nice job! That's how I remove almost all crank bolts if I'm working in my garage. I've had a few Toyota's that wouldn't budge even with the biggest air I could use.

I had to use the "traditional" method with my wife's Honda since the engine spins CCW and the threading on the bolt wasn't reversed. It took a custom 5 foot breaker with me hanging off the end of it to get it loose. When it finally went it sounded like the whole **** car snapped in half. There were a lot of stares around the garage until I verified it was just the bolt coming free and not something much more expensive
That's kind of funny to hear that, the single hardest crank pulley bolt I've every had to deal with was on an Acura 2.5 tl. I thought I was going to break the bolt off for sure, then all at once it let go. I ended up with a ridiculously long cheater bar as well, scary stuff!
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Would this come out easily with an impact wrench? Or are the only two options to use the subaru special tool or this bump-the-starter method?

Are there are any risks of damaging the starter or other components using this method?

I may be tackling my first timing belt in the spring, so just trying to collect as much info as possible.
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by chuchu
Would this come out easily with an impact wrench? Or are the only two options to use the subaru special tool or this bump-the-starter method?

Are there are any risks of damaging the starter or other components using this method?

I may be tackling my first timing belt in the spring, so just trying to collect as much info as possible.
Personally I would not do the "starter bump" method. But I've never tried it either, I'd be too afraid of something happening to the starter, flywheel, crankshaft perhaps. . . . who know's; just my opinion though. The way I've always done it if I didn't have the special tool is to use a strap wrench or worst case scenario use a chain wrench. You have to be seriously careful though if you use a chain wrench because if can easily ruin the crankshaft pulley. Best to use the holder tool, but strap wrench with the nylon strap is a great alternative.
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by chuchu
Would this come out easily with an impact wrench? Or are the only two options to use the subaru special tool or this bump-the-starter method?

Are there are any risks of damaging the starter or other components using this method?

I may be tackling my first timing belt in the spring, so just trying to collect as much info as possible.
Sure, it's possible. But the damage would be much less expensive than what could happen by using an impact on it, imo. Transmitting the banging of an impact straight through the crank into all the bearings, etc. I've done the starter trick about a dozen times and have never had a problem. It only takes the shortest "blip" of the starter to break it loose. Use at your own risk.
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Old 12-29-2009, 08:17 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by chuchu
... Or are the only two options to use the subaru special tool or this bump-the-starter method?
There is another option:
On the rear top of the engine on the passenger side, remove the inspection port plug, rotate the engine by hand until the slot appears, and insert a screwdriver into the slot to lock the crankshaft. One can then remove the crankshaft bolt with a breaker bar and pipe extension.

Even if one removes the crankshaft bolt with the starter method, you will still need to do the above when reinstalling and torqueing the crank bolt.

I've used the starter method a few times and it works well. One warning: make sure the socket is solidly on the bolt head before bumping the starter. Otherwise, you risk it slipping off and rounding the corners of the bolt head.

12369AA011 Crankshaft pulley bolt $4.55
804505060 Crankshaft Key $2.32

Also, for those with a manual tranny, I've read of putting the the tranny in 1st gear and having an assistant push down the brake pedal while one uses the breaker bar with pipe extension.
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Old 12-29-2009, 10:30 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I've done a few timing belts on various cars. Using air is always the preferred method, but I've done the starter trick a few times too. Like it's been said, it won't work on Hondas because the engines turn CCW, but they usually have a slot on the bell housing to hold the flywheel with a big screw driver. You need to prevent the crank from spinning on almost anything when installing the bolt though (unless using an impact wrench). Sometimes it needs to be torqued beyond what the impact can put out - air cooled VW engines for instance need to be torqued to about 300ft-lb (now that I think about it, it's the flywheel side bolt, but still...)
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Old 12-30-2009, 04:04 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The O.P didn't mention how he held the pulley to torque the bolt back down when he was done.

A chain wrench won't damage the pulley of you wrap it with a length of belt first. Cut it so it meets end to end around the pulley then give it a couple wraps of duct tape.

I wouldn't say there is no chance of damaging something with the starter bump method but when you realize the loads that are transferred to the crank with normal driving, it's not as scary ;]
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