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Alright. I'm not a mechanic, though I did date and procreate some spawn with a heavy duty mechanic for over 8 years, and spent a very large amount of time with him in the shop supplying me with a greater understanding than the average individual about automotive mechanics. That being said, past changing my tires, brakes, or the wiring of my vehicle, I'm not the most comfortable, but I am excellent at comprehending and explaining to my husband, and he's excellent at executing said explanations. So, here we are. *sigh*

We have a 1999 Honda Prelude, 5th gen 2.2L 4cyl VTEC DOHC, automatic with the manual switch over (drawing a blank on what it's called for real, at this moment). She's black, she's beautiful, and we love her very much, but, the proverbial sh** has hit the fan, and I've now read sooooo much, and listened to what's gone on while I wasn't around too many times, and I'm afraid I'm at a loss and/or extremely confused on what to do or where to go now, and I am at your mercy. Someone please, for the love of whatever is holy, help me! :(

The backstory:

About a month ago, I was driving within city limits (we reside in the Okanagan, in BC, Canada), and stopped in traffic at a light I noticed someone's belt squealing. After a moment I asked my husband if it was us, to which he stated "No", but immediately started playing with the heater to double check. Sure enough, it was us. At this point, I thought the idle seemed a bit rougher than normal, she usually runs extremely smooth, but it wasn't bad enough to raise too large of an alarm obviously. Light went green, I slowly started driving and the squeal stopped once he shut the heater off. Great. We probably need a new belt, no biggie. The next light was green, so right on through we went, when I felt something sort of give way if this makes sense, and I quite literally felt it smack me in the butt under the car. I'd say I heard it, but, I think I simply felt it. Immediately the car started to shake, (though my husband says he didn't feel anything at this point), and I proclaimed that something was very wrong, and went into the turning lane to the left of me. There were cars preventing me from turning straight away, so I did stop for maybe 5 seconds, and then slowly cross traffic and pull directly over and shut the car off. A very nice gentleman helped us push the car into the parking lot next to us, and my husband popped the hood to have a look. One belt had sheared apart entirely (assuming this was what smacked my butt), and was in pieces, though still somewhat attached in very tiny areas. He noticed that our crankshaft pulley (harmonic balancer) was wobbling like it had drank far too much and was trying to walk a straight line. After a few choice words and moments with our heads in our hands, he took a closer look and the bolt had actually loosened so badly it was about to fall off, which clearly tells me that the previous owner failed to use locktite upon putting it back on. (He'd told us when we purchased it from him some 5k km prior, that he'd replaced the timing belt and water pump not long before he parked it). More choice words, and 2 hours spent waiting for a tow truck, with it ending up at my mother in law's as they were closest, and we lived an hour away.

Fast forward beyond weeks of frustrating times trying to purchase a new harmonic balancer and woodruff key for a decent price (there wasn't a single woodruff key for our car within western Canada, how, I don't even understand!), and my husband set out with his brother in law, who, while not having his red seal, is by all means, a heavy duty mechanic. All they had to do, was put this damn thing back together, make sure all was good, and come home. After 8 hours, I finally got a message from hubs saying, "We're in the sh** now something deep". Apparently our brother in law doesn't give a crap about anyone's things unless they're his own, and felt entitled to screw all sorts of things up, rather than just do the job at hand...

The old woodruff key was in tact, and upon removing it and attempting to put the new one in, things were no longer aligned correctly. (facepalm, anyone having knowledge on this process knows why) So, our dillhole brother in law starts turning the cam pulleys with a wrench on the bolt(s), trying to align things back up to get the key in. The timing belt is still on, to this very moment, and not once came off at all, and both swear it didn't move aside from how it should normally. However, he started off moving them a very teeny tiny amount, eventually it became a larger amount, and no matter what, could not get things lined up and get the key in. The bolts were never off for the pulleys, but, things are no longer at TDC at the top.. and when they are put there, it's still misaligned. Then he leaves, citing "I dunno man, I dunno what to tell you", and has been "busy" and unable to come fix his ignorance. My husband spent an afternoon back there since, and obviously the timing is out, and should be redone. He left things as they were and came home, and here we are.

I have questions and concerns, and not because I don't have the knowledge or any knowledge on these specific areas per se, but because I have either read or know so many different situations, and so much, that I'm now overwhelmed and so is my husband. I need clarification and/or confirmation, and maybe a bit of reassurance that I'm not lost. So, I apologize for the long winded, and probably severely annoyed tone of this entire post, but I am at my wits end, and I type like I talk, which is a lot. :rolleyes:

What I'm hoping to gain some perspective on, are these questions:

- If he was turning the cam pulleys, is there the chance of bent valves, and if so, at this point, how would he even check prior to going ahead with the timing belt replacement?

- Given that our timing was done at some point within the last 5.5k to 20k kms, the belt and water pump still look pristine and in all realness, don't need to be replaced... Is it feasible to simply use the belt/pump on it already, instead of replacing them or is it necessary to replace them? We have already purchased the other belts to be replaced as it was necessary, but, if the timing belt and water pump are usable and we can simply reset the timing per se, rather than buy the entire kit and caboodle, it will help us greatly, but, we're willing to do whatever is necessary. We need our car.

- Is there any chance of not removing the timing belt (I feel like a moron even typing this out, but I'm doing it anyway) and having things line up again to get the new woodruff key in?

- I'm having the car towed home. I can't do anything with it being an hour away, and my mother in law wants it out of her carport. Plus, all of hubs tools and what not are here, so, if I want to take ten hours to do some timing with him, we can do it much easier at home than an hour away. BCAA won't tow it unless it's insured, and together. Fair enough, not a problem. Is it safe to put the covers back on, leave the key out, and harmonic balancer off for the flatbed ride home? Or is there something else we should be doing prior?

- I'm assuming the belt needs to come off, and the timing needs to be redone entirely. Fine. Craptastic, but, fine. But, is there anything I'm missing aside from bent valves that he could have damaged, that needs to be checked or done?

My head hurts even just typing this. I was not present for anything other than the initial incident with the pulley happening, and the ride in the tow truck to the inlaws, only my husband was present past that point for the fun events that occurred. He took photos yesterday for me, and I can have him send them to me and post them here if anyone needs them to help.

I apologize for such a long and probably ridiculous thread, but, please help. I am ready to absolutely beat my brother in laws a** and force him to pay for this mess he created, but, I'm not really looking for a family feud either. Soooo.. any advice or solid knowledge and guidance is 100% welcome and so very appreciated.

-Jessie
 

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Hello Jessie,

1) Regarding bent valves, yes, possibly, it's an interference motor. I would hopefully think not assuming all turning was done by hand, but it is possible. And only good way to examine that is going to be to take off the head and check.

2) You can examine the belt and see. In the grand scheme it's not that great a cost to replace if you have any doubts. The water pump should be fine.

3) There is a chance, i.e. within the realm of physical possibility in this universe, that you could get things realigned without removing the timing belt. But you would be betting on a lot of luck and risking bending your valves. I would treat your current situation basically as an engine rebuild to guarantee you get it right.

4) Assuming you are planning to take it completely apart to align it and put it together there should be no issue. Just make sure it never leaves neutral. You do not want that engine to turn at all int he current state.

5) Nothing aside from bent valves to the best of my knowledge and carefully examining the belt for wear or cracks. Others please chime in if I am wrong.

Hopefully you have the official shop manual / bible. It'll be a life saver here.
Here's a link: The Prelude Bible
If you do not already have a copy the bible is your friend. It will have all the instructions to do this yourself.

Best of luck!
 

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I own a 3rd gen prelude, but doubt there were major changes to the engine. The belt you saw sheared, was not the timing belt (that is inside the engine and connects to a toothed gear on the crankshaft that is not visible from the outside of the engine). The belts connected to the crankshaft pulley (ie harmonic balancer) are belts to the alternator/air conditioning compressor and a belt to the power steering pump. If the key to the harmonic balancer came out and the balancer therefore spins on the crankshaft, it should have no effect on timing because your timing belt should still be intact. Just loosen the tension on the alternator and power stearing belts and remove them, then the cranshaft pulley should come off and you can replace the key (you have to remove the front driver side wheel to access this). THen just replace and retension the belts and you should be good. You can remove the valve cover to inspect your timing belt, but it should be intact and you should not have bent valves from what you describe. BTW, you dont locktite the crankshaft pulley, they are a ***** to remove anyway if torqued correctly.
 

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Hi Jessie,

I think I had a similar problem as you. I was driving my manual 5th gen prelude, by the way you have a tiptronic (early version of Sport Shift) automatic transmission, and I felt a tug and the check engine light came on and it turned off on me coming out of a highway off-ramp. It was weird and I knew something was off. I got lucky and coasted to safe spot.

After multiple attempts of trying to start it, it wouldn't start. I had previously rebuilt the engine and I was shocked to know that anything would be wrong with it. It had new everything you can think of, timing belt, automatic belt tensioner, OEM expensive water pump, new pistons and rings, new camshaft and bearing rods, etc.

Long story short, it turned out that it was the timing belt was ripped apart. You can find out if your timing belt is not working by removing the distributor and cranking on the engine have someone look at the camshaft at see if it turns. So I took off the valve cover confirmed that the timing belt was ripped. It turned out that the NEW, from the Honda dealer, AUTOMATIC BELT TENSIONER was faulty. It kept tensioning the timing belt and caused it to rip.

I ended up buying a manual belt tensioner, here's a really good write up with all the parts you need: https://www.preludepower.com/forums/showthread.php?t=229140
and put in a new water pump and belt. Hoping that me cranking it didn't bent any valves. And to this day it has been running without any problems. Keep in mind I did rebuilt the engine like 500 miles before the stupid faulty automatic belt tensioner caused me to be in that scenario in the first place.

I got all my parts manual belt tensioner, gates blue performance timing belt, gates water pump from this website: https://www.importrp.com/product.php?productid=41997

Here is a link to download the 1997-2001 Honda Prelude Shop Manual for free, dont pay Amazon: Prelude 1997-2001 BB6 USDM Manual

Hope this helps!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Done Finally!

Sorry for the extremely late reply, I'd typed one out previously and apparently our internet crapped out or something and it never did post. My apologies!

This situation just got resolved today fully, and is a huge weight off our shoulders.

Basically, the timing was not out, but the crank had slipped slightly when the key was taken out. The flywheel was reading at the "F" rather than the white line at TDC, with literally everything else lining up. A few turns of the crank and magically everything lined up perfectly without having to take the belt off. The timing belt is quite new looking still, nothing wrong with it at all so we didn't replace it. Never had it off, even.

Replaced the Alternator and PS belts, harmonic balancer etc etc. Moody Ludie didn't want to start, but, her battery was dead dead and she'd been sitting in the cold for a couple months sooooooooo we brought the battery in and hooked it up to charge, then gave it another go. After a bit of protesting, she fired up but was rough and was throwing a code for the CKP/TDC Sensor. Of course, if it's not one thing, it's another lol. Took it for a drive, and no matter the gear, it wouldn't go past 3k rpm, so back home to investigate we went.

I noticed our clip on the CKP/TDC sensor wiring harness was broken on the sensor plug itself, and we tried a couple mickey mouse tactics to hold it together, but no luck. I'm not even sure what he did, but, hubs fixed the plug and cleared the code, and gave it another try this afternoon, of course after going and getting a new sensor (lol)

She fired right up, and no more hard start or code being thrown. Took her for a drive, and she just wants to go. We did have a ticking sound coming from the drivers front tire, which, I'd pin pointed down to the crankshaft pulley either being loose or faulty, orrrrr wires touching a belt, but even that has stopped now. Everything has been torqued to spec, and now we can't wait to get the winter tires off on the 31st, and put on our low pros and have some fun again.

Thanks for the replies, we really appreciate all the help we got in pm's and replies and elsewhere. :]
 

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Yayyyyy, great news that you were able to get her back and running. It is great to hear that you guys didn't give up on her and were able to solve the problem. The shop manual and YouTube tutorial videos are great resources when trying to pin-point a problem. I think in your case you had a special circumstance where the pulley came off and caused damage to the CKP/TDC sensor. Luckily you were able to put the timing belt on and discovered the damaged sensor afterwards.

Preludes are a dying bread and the few out there still running need all the support they can get.
 
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