Introduction: 1994 Toyota 4Runner V6 3VZE Timing Belt Replacment

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This is a step by step for changing the timing belt on a 1994 Toyota 4Runner V6 3.0 Liter, Engine code 3VZE.
My engine has 195K miles and I have no idea when any of this was done cause there was no paper trail.

I will be changing the following parts: Timing Belt, Water Pump, thermostat, No.1 Idler, No.2 Idler, AC Idler Pulley, AC, Power Steering, and Alternator Belts.

This whole process was done over 4th of July weekend. Until I found that the no. 2 idler was shot, so I had to order that on Saturday and wait till it comes (FYI I'm starting this Instructable early). Other wise this is a one weekend job that if you have the right tools, some patience, and all the parts you'll have no problems!


I am not a mechanic but I am damn handy. I do all of my own car work and know a little bit of everything. I researched everything before I set out to do this and at the end of this article will be links to all the resources I was drawing from (I suggest you look at them before you start).
Antifreeze is a corrosive poisonous liquid that looks and tastes like green Koolade, if it gets on your skin or in your eyes IMMEDIATELY FLUSH WITH WATER (go to hospital if irritation continues). Small children and pets easily lick it up and Will go blind or die. Therefore don't let it sit out or dribble and pool on the ground, flush it down the toilet or pour it down the sewer.
Misaligning the cams or crankshaft pulleys will cause serious damage to your engine; mark them with the paint pen and make sure they DO NOT MOVE!

I take no responsibility for damage done to yours or others property by following this guide.

Step 1: Tools for the Job

Required Tools:
Metric sockets(shallow well) 4, 10, 12, 13, 14, and 19mm. One deep well 14mm
Swivel head for those sockets and extensions, 2 in and 2x 4 in.
Torque Wrench
Hammer (ball pine preferred)
Pulley Puller (can rent at AutoZone)
Gasket Maker / Packing Material / Sealent
Several razor blades and a green bremmo pad for cleaning gasket areas
Screw drivers
Paint pen - very important!
Haynes manual or a factory service manual (something besides me)
Funnel with narrow tip
Drain pan (or a big bowl)
Latex gloves when working in the greasy areas
Lots of paper towels

Antifreeze to replace what you drain(see step 12)
Transmission Fluid to replace the small amount you'll lose

I HIGHLY recommend buying a box of sandwich baggies and tearing off pieces of paper to keep track of parts you have taken off. I have about 30 baggies of bolts and parts with labels telling me what they are and how many are supposed to be there. It will make your life better I swear.

Optional Tools:
Camera - it just helps you keep track of stuff and who knows you may make a write up like I did
Extra set of hands (required for taking radiator out)
Air tools - air wrench and blower to clean dust out of parts
Carb cleaner - or some sort of solvent to clean grease off
Tape - to label things that won't fit in bags, ie the belts

If replacing your No.1 Idler/Tensioner you'll need a 10mm hex/allen key and if your no.2 idler bearing is bad like mine was you'll need a 14mm box end wrench with a 90 degree curve at the box end (picture at that step). I made one by putting it in a vice and heating it up then bending it.

Step 2: First Things First

If your truck is so equipped remove the skid plate.

Drain the radiator and the engine block of coolant (antifreeze).
Remove the radiator cap to speed up draining (Your engine should be cool or else antifreeze will spray out and burn you!)

The radiator has a pepcock on the passenger side, twist to drain, catch with drain pan, the engine block has one too(see pic)
I had to shove a small screwdriver into the large lower rad hose to drain it(took a long time); its filled with coolant so be careful not to splash yourself taking it off.
While all this is draining remove the large upper radiator hose that connects to the engine block.

The lower part of the radiator has transmission fluid in it. There are two hoses that connects to it, I had to cut them both off. Use your sandwich baggies and zip tie them shut (or rubber band) so none of the hoses leak.

Close up the pep cocks at this point.

Step 3: Radiator, Fan Shroud, and Fan Removal

You'll need an extra set of hands performing this step.

First remove 4 fan shroud bolts (10mm) an extension is needed. Bag and Tag em!
Unbolt the fan from its heat sink, 4 nuts (10mm), need an extra set of hands to hold fan with another wrench.
Now unbolt the radiator, 4 bolts (12mm) again with the extension, bag and tag em!

Okay now the way I got my radiator out was this:
Make sure the fan is still resting on the studs
Have one person get under the car and the other grab the radiator and push it towards the front of the car.
The under person then bends the fan shroud around the radiator while the other person slowly lifts the radiator. The hard part was on the drivers side of the radiator where the large radiator hose connected.

Once the radiator is removed take out the fan and shroud.

Step 4: Belt(s) Removal

Now we are going to remove the AC belt, Power Steering Pump (PSP) belt, and Alternator belt.

First loosen the AC Tensioner(14mm) its a long bolt so have fun.
Now whack that pulley with your hammer to loosen up the belt. Take off the AC idler puller nut(12mm?) Remove the pulley and hardware, I have a pic of the correct order. JUST REMEMBER WHERE THE BRACKET IS IN THE SEQUENCE!!

Next loosen the PSP tensioner(14mm Deep Well) Refer to picture for the crazy extension I had to make and snake in there (extra set of hands is nice for this step) I recommend not taking this off, cause it would be a bitch to put back on. This is located to the right of the battery and kinda behind the PSP Reservoir. There is a pivoting bolt(14mm) that you also have to loosen to get the PSP belt off.

Next loosen the alternator tensioner, little whacking required so be careful!

Now remove the belts and use your tape to label them. in order of closeness to front of car.
1 PSP 2 AC 3 Alternator

Step 5: Exposing the Timing Belt

Alright we are almost at the timing belt: all that is in our way is the the upper radiator intake nipple, upper timing belt cover, fan heat sink and the fan bracket assembly, the crank shaft pulleys, and finally lower timing belt cover. This is a Big part with Alot of steps.

The 1st pic is with the upper timing cover removed along with the fan assembly, the 2nd picture shows the location of the various parts to take off, 3rd pic shows The Triangle Thingy, 4th shows cam alignment marks,5th shows the crank shaft alignment mark, 6th shows the Top Dead Center Marks, the 7th pic is an exploded view, and the last picture shows the pulley puller pulling the pulleys (lol).

First remove the upper coolant intake nipple by removing 2 nuts(10mm) then taking the 2 studs off(4mm). Take some tape and seal the hole that is now exposed (I used a baggie at first and debris still got in there).

Detach the spark plug wire raceway(harness). Be careful not to bend the wires or you'll ruin the conductor inside. You can just shove it away from the timing cover; I had to detach these 3 wires later on from the distributor, if you do this label the wires with some paint or tape.

Remove all 11 bolts(10mm) from the upper timing belt cover, the top 4 are different then the rest. Bag and Tag em! Pull off the upper timing belt cover.

STOP This is where lining up the cams and crank shaft are really important!!!!!!
There are small ticks on each of the cams that must be pointed up towards the corresponding ticks.(if your belt has been replaced before you'll prolly have some sort of paint marks already. Take a 19mm socket and turn the crank pulley assembly clockwise (looking at the engine) until the no.1 cylinder is at Top Dead Center(TDC). There are small marks that indicate this near the crank shaft assembly. If you are unsure how to do this step take a minute to do a little research on the internet. Don't F this part up!! Mark everything with a paint Pen and take lots of pictures!
Here's a link to the Factory Service Manual

Remove 4 nuts(12mm) from the fan heat sink. This will allow you to take off the fan heat sink and the 2 pulleys behind it (this isn't necessary but makes working a little easier. The next step is critical. Refer to the exploded view of the timing belt assembly and locate the timing belt tensioner; alternate loosening the two bolts(14mm) until the tensioner can be removed; don't forget the rubber dust boot!
Now you can take off the fan assembly by removing the 3 bolts(14mm). the top right and bottom left bolts are the same but the bottom right bolt is different, remove the fan assembly.
***I can't remember exactly but you may have to remove the Triangle Thingy(see pic) in order to take the fan assembly off; it is part of the AC tensioner. To do this remove nut #1, Bolt #2, then bolt #3; these are all 14mm.

At this point you should have something like the first picture. Take a're doing great.

First remove the 4 nuts(12mm) holding on the 1st crankshaft pulley, take this off and set it aside. Next remove the crank shaft pulley (19mm) (DO NOT ROTATE THE CRANKSHAFT)
????????how to not rotate shaft?????????????
Bust out your pulley puller and remove the last 2 pulleys (DO NOT ROTATE THE CRANKSHAFT) Not alot I can tell you on how to do this except go slow and think about what you're doing.

Now the lower timing cover is fully exposed,; remove the 3 bolts (10mm) and slip it off.

We are now ready to take the belt off... Woo Hoo!

Step 6: Removing the Belt and Water Pump

Now that the timing belt is exposed we can finally remove the timing belt. If you're reusing the belt (not recommended) then use your paint pen to mark where it aligns with the tick marks. Slip the belt off and inspect it for damage; cracks, worn teeth, frayed edges, etc...

I know the pic is b4 I took the belt off but its the clearest one I had.

Okay since we're replacing the water pump along with the timing belt we should prolly take that bad boy off. Start with the small coolant hose that connects to the water pump. Next the large lower radiator hose (Not shown in pic). These bolts are different sizes so mark them as you take them out!!!!!
Remove 7 bolts(12mm) around water pump. Some of these had washers and some didn't; I didn't pay attention and IDK if it matters or not. Bag and Tag em!

You have to man handle the thing to get it off, its glued on with a gasket. When you get the water pump off plug the holes with paper towels.

Step 7: Inspection, Clean Up, and General Maintaince

Now that we have everything disassembled we can see what we need to replace!

Firstly check the manufacturing year on your water pump, Its either stamped or printed on the front. If its less then 5 years old it prolly has another 40k miles left in it. But you should replace it anyways, unless of course you want to do this again in a few years....

Take the tensioner and try to compress it on the floor; you should NOT be able to(unless you're ripped), If you can replace it.

Check the no.2 idler bearing for play (bend it up and down) and spin it really fast. It should not move much nor should it make any ugly noises (like mine did). Do the same with the timing belt no.1 idler/tensioner.

Here's a video that shows the difference; if my no.2 had been left alone it would have eventually locked up and burned a hole through my timing belt and made my engine explode!

Next we have to clean all the surfaces in preparation for reassembly.

Start with the coolant intake nipple we took off in step 5; it will give you practice cleaning the water pump gasket. I cleaned out the groove with the tip of a mechanical pencil.

Next do the same to the upper radiator intake nipple (part of the no.2 idler assembly). I stuffed a bag inside to catch debris but I still vacuumed the hole to get the dust out. Woe is me, that was b4 I knew it was bad!!

Now take out your razor blade and remove as much of the gasket as possible. Then take out a new razor blade and do it again. Then take your finger nail and check for any crud, remove as necessary. Finally take out your bremmo pad and scour these surfaces until they sparkle.

Why the attention to detail? Well if your water pump leaks it will get on your shiny new timing belt; thus reducing its life, also you'll be losing coolant which can cause your engine to over heat, and finally if you F this up you gotta do this whole thing again. So take some time and do it right!

If you're not replacing the water pump (big no, no) then clean all of its surfaces also.

Here's a few other things you can do since you have the engine apart this far:

Buy a new thermostat, they're cheap and you won't have to worry about it later on.

Take a hose and clean your radiator fins with a high powered jet (DO NOT use a high pressure power washer) Some soap is a good idea here. You can also get some radiator cleaner from AutoZone and get all the rust and corrosion out of it, at the very least flush it out with a garden hose.

Inspect your 3 drive belts for cracks or wear, replace as necessary.

If you cut your tranny hoses like I did get new hose (bring a sample) and replace them to the right length. Just set the radiator in, it has notches that will hold it in place.

Clean the fan heat sink; just cause its out and you can.

Use some carburetor cleaner (heavy duty solvent) and clean off your crank case and the whole timing belt assembly. The less debris and contaminants that are within this area, the better.

Step 8: Removing the No.2 Idler Assembly

The No.2 idler assembly is slightly hidden by an electrical raceway and some fuel lines.

In order to remove the idler you must first remove 4 bolts(10mm) from the small plate that surrounds the no.2 idler. Pry the plate back and forth so it loosens then slide it up.
It will be caught by the electrical raceway, there are several clips on each side that you have to open in order to open the raceway. It is not necessary to completely remove the raceway, just bend it enough to let the plate pass by.

Once you have the plate off you can use your special 90 degree 14mm box end wrench. The 4 bolts(12mm) are exposed enough that you can place the wrench on and use a pair of pliers to initially loosen the bolts. Clean this surface like the others and clear any debris that fall into the hole. Tape it closed when finished.

Step 9: Removing the No.1 Idler/Tensioner

This is pretty straight forward as long as you have the correct tools. You'll need a 10mm allen key to remove the No.1 idler. I cut a chunk off the allen key; stuffed it into a 10mm socket and used that to take it off and put it back on. No pic of the tool but you get the idea.

Step 10: Reassembly P1

Well you did well taking humpty dumpty apart, Can you put him back together?

It's a good idea to attach the water pump then allow the gasket to fully form up before driving the vehicle; so let your truck sit over night after you're done. Clean the area where the gasket will be applied with some solvent. I will let you make your own decision on what type of packing (Gasket) maker to use; but here's a discussion on the various types.
Apply gasket/packing material and assemble within 5 minutes. The bead should be 2-3mm (.08-.12") wide, more material is NOT better! Refer to the second picture for torque specifications on the various bolts, (7 bolts 12mm) I also Installed(don't forget the thermostat!!) the black triangle hose(water inlet pipe) with the 3 bolts (forgot to write the size but mine were all different so I marked them as I removed them) Torqued those to 14 ft lbs. The best way to not mess up your gasket is to slip 2 bolts into the pump then align those to their holes. Screw them in a little then push the pump all the way on and install the rest of the bolts.

Now put the no.2 idler back on(4 bolts12mm). Again apply some gasket sealent to the idler portion; its easier if one person holds it and the other person starts the bolts. Start with the rear ones and tighten to 13 ft lbs then the front bolts also to 13 ft lbs. Replace the plate (4 bolts 10mm), put the electrical raceway back together.

Put the timing belt back on the vehicle, clean all the areas that the belt touches so there is no oil, grease, or anti freeze any where, remember to line up the installation marks that the belt has. Now put the No.1 idler bearing on, again this takes 2 people; one person manuvers the idler while the other slips the bolt into its housing. When you get it put together then install using your 10 mm hex key and torque to 25 ft lbs. Careful not to move the belt which would move the cams and or crank. Look at picture for proper routing of the belt. Its a pain getting the belt on so take your time and don't damage it or move the cams/crank! If you do move them turn them back the opposite way till they line up with the marks again.

Replace the lower timing chain cover using 3 bolts(10 mm)

Step 11: Reassembly P2

So far so good.

Put the fan assembly back on using 3 bolts (14mm) and torque to 30 ft lbs.
-Top right bolt is the same as the bottom left; the bottom right bolt has extra grooves near the head.

Now if you have a big enough vice then take the tensioner and compress it, put a piece of cardboard in to protect the piston, once compressed enough a small allen key or other strong piece of metal can be slipped into the small hole to retain the piston thingy during installation. If you can't do this don't worry I was able to install it without first compressing it. Take the 2 bolts and alternatively screw them in, torque to 20 ft lbs.

Now replace the metal triangle thing using 1 nut(14mm) and 2 bolts(14 mm).

Put the main timing cover back on using 11 bolts(10mm); the 4 along the top are different from the other 7.

Now put the 2 studs(4 mm) back into the no.2 idler intake hose thing. Put some packing/gasket maker on the water outlet pipe and reattach using the 2 nuts(10mm)

Replace the crankshaft pulley making sure the key way lines up with the key(see 3rd pic for key location). This takes some wacking with a hammer, do one corner then another corner so it goes on evenly until you can put the big bolt back on. If you didn't line up the keyway then pull it off using your pulley puller and try again. Put the big bolt back on(19 mm) and torque to 25 ft lbs.
Reattach the last pulley using the 4 bolts.

Now put the fan heat sink back on the fan bracket (refer to the 4th pic for proper pulley sequence) using 4 nuts(12 mm). The way the parts are shown is how they get placed on top of each other.

Next we'll reinstall the AC tensioner. I got a new idler pulley and it took me a sec to put it back together the right way; so look at pic 5 if you can't figure it out. The parts go onto the bolt on the left as shown one atop another. I forget where the mount goes in on all this so hopefully you paid better attention then I did. The 6th pic shows the location of the long bolt(14mm), you may have to rotate the pulley bolt by turning the nut(12mm?) so that the hole aligns with the long bolt. Once the long bolt is threaded in a ways finish tightening the pulley nut(12mm?), torque to 20 ft lbs.

Now replace all the belts in this order 1st Alternator 2nd AC 3rd PSP

Lets tighten them up, you may need a buddy to do this.

Since we're so familiar with the AC tensioner lets start with that beast. Pretty easy its tightened using the long bolt (14mm), I've heard that if you can twist the belt more then 45 degrees then its too loose so use that as a starting point and if its too tight we'll fix it later on.

To tighten the Alternator belt have one guy take a long screw driver or pry bar and carefully apply tension then tighten the pivoting bolt(14mm?)

Now the hard one, the PSP belt. Make the crazy extension again(pic) and get in on the bolt(14mm deep well) apply tension to the belt by prying and tighten the bolt.
Don't let go of the pry bar.
Tighten the pivoting bolt(14mm) located behind the PSP pulley.

So now we can put the fan, fan shroud, and radiator back in. I put the fan onto its bolts but didn't put the nuts on. Put the shroud over this then slip the radiator in. It went alot easier going in then coming out. Now put the 4 nuts(10mm) onto the fan, careful nut to snap the bolt off like I did by OVER torquing them. Bolt the fan shroud back on using the 4 bolts(10mm). And finally bolt the radiator back on using the 4 bolts(12mm).

Step 12: Reassembly P3

Alright almost home free. Things to buy: antifreeze, transmission fluid, tranny hose, hose clamps, funnel with shard point.

You'll need new tranny hoses if you cut them like I did; idk what the size is just bring a sample and buy like 4 feet. You may also need new hose clamps. Look at the pic for how to route the tranny hoses, idk if it matters but i don't wanna find out. Its a pain getting these new hoses on so a little lube in the form of tranny fluid is a good idea. You must brace the metal tube with one hand and slip the hose on with the other. Same with the ones on the radiator, be careful and don't snap them off. You add tranny fluid through the tranny dip stick hole(the orange one next to your oil dip stick) using your shiny new funnel. The fluid is checked when the engine is running so wait till we finish the coolant part next.

Make sure you closed those drain pepcocks(pic), there's one on the engine and one on the radiator. The pepcock on the radiator has a small O ring that may have been damaged. Un-twist the plastic thingy all the way and inspect the O ring; replace if needed(its alot easier to do this b4 there is fluid in there trust me). Reconnect the hoses on the bottom but leave the large upper hose disconnected from the radiator but not the engine.

Alright refer to the pic for how much coolant you need and start filling the radiator. When its full put coolant in the engine via the large upper hose, connect to radiator when full. Put some fluid in the extra resivoir to the right of the radiator.

Gentlemen Start Your Engines! (did you get chills too?)

Look for leaks, listen for knocking(bad) and squealing (one of your drive belts is too tight or loose), keep an eye on your temperature gauge. Only keep it on for like 30 seconds, no longer then a minute.

Okay you can now shut off your engine and add more coolant, might have to squeeze the upper radiator hose to create some room, hump the car a bit to get the bubbles out. Start the engine again and do this all again.

When you still see fluid in the upper radiator hose after adding and starting you're close to full.
Check your transmission fluid and add as needed.

All good? Listen to that baby purr! Notice that the whole engine just seems smoother when accelerating, its hard to describe but its like......ugh I just soiled myself...

JK remember to watch your temp gauge for a couple days and if you notice a puddle of antifreeze under your car check where its leaking and pray its not the water pump.

Step 13: Extra Stuff

Well you did it. I did mine over the 4th of July weekend. But had to wait for those idlers to come in so I finished it in a day the next weekend. I snapped off 1 bolt from the fan. Bought the wrong size tranny hoses and had to go back. Thats about all the mess ups I had doing this.

Here's a picture of my truck for your drooling pleasure.

This is my first Instructable, hope its not overly detailed but this is how I would want a set of instructions to be. Comments are appreciated, Questions are welcome, and Thanks is not needed.

-Matt H

PS. Its been a while since I have looked at this page and I have over 11,000 views! Thanks for the vote of confidence guys, I see that some of the steps are corrupted; I'll be fixing that and a few typos that I have seen.
Although I'm not making it into an instructable, I recently (12-2010) had an oil leak and had to change my rear main oil seal. Pain in the ass but it beat $800 from a shop. I'm up to 250k Miles on my truck, still running like a champ

Step 14: Links to Other Reading Materials

Page from Service Manual about Changing Timing Belt

1993 Service Manual (the whole thing applies to the 94 engine)

Another page from the Service Manual that tells about torque specifications(1/2 way down)

Good topic about changing Timing Belt on the 3VZE Engine

Forum topic about changing a Timing Belt

5VZ-FE Timing Belt Replacement

V6 3.4L Timing Belt Replacement

96' V6 Timing Belt Replacement

Article about Proper Torque Specs on Bolts