B16A refresh

B16A refresh

Whenever buying a used “JDM” motor, or even a used motor from the states its best to do at least three things to refresh it and ensure its reliability. Since the motor is out of the car, this makes it a perfect opportunity to replace some of  the things that are a pain to access while the motor is in the car. The most common thing to replace is the timing belt. The timing belt replacement intervals are not only based on mileage, but on years too. Just because the “JDM” motor you got has low miles, doesn’t mean that its not due for a timing belt change. Timing belts are rubber, they tend to dry out and crack over time and this can lead to snapping of the timing belt, especially if your planing on driving the car hard. The next thing to consider replacing is the water pump. Replacing the timing belt and water pump go hand in hand and with how cheap a water pump is (about 100 bucks for an OEM one) its best to just do this while you’re doing the timing belt. Lastly the timing belt tensioner. The timing belt tensioner is what keeps tension on your timing belt (duh), if this were to fail it could cause the belt to loosen and possibly skip some teeth on the cam gears, or crankshaft. This would result in pretty much total destruction of the engine from the pistons hitting the valves. However, this isn’t always the case because there are two different types of engines. “interference” and “non interference”

An interference engine is a type of 4-stroke internal combustion piston engine in which one or more valves in the fully open position extends into any area through which the piston may travel. By contrast, in a noninterference engine, the piston does not travel into any area into which the valves open.

This means that if you have a “non-interference” engine and your timing belt snaps, or skips teeth, you might actually be OK. Unfortunately, most Honda engines are “interference” type and you will not be happy if something happens.

So,  Timing belt, tensioner, and water pump are the most important things and should be replaced before you even begin to swap the motor in the car. Now I don’t just stop there, I figure while the motor is out of the car it’s so easy to access everything.

In this article I will not only show you how to replace the timing belt, the tensioner, and the water pump. I will be showing you how to replace a plethora of seals/gaskets, oil pump, and distributor parts. All of this will ensure that your motor will give you plenty of trouble free years. Plus who wants to have oil leaks on the motor they just put in their car. Sure its easy to replace the oil pan gasket or valve cover but, what about if your cam seals leak… It’s just easier to replace it all while the motor is out of the car.


I begin with removing the spark plugs.  This will make rotating the crank shaft around when setting the timing easier, since there will be no compression in each cylinder.


remove the 10mm bolts securing the valve cover (should be x8)


Remove the distributor x3 12mm bolts (if you’re changing all the seals like I am.  If you’re only doing the timing belt/water pump skip ahead a few.)


Remove the middle timing belt cover x2 10mm bolts. (the valve cover is considered the upper cover)


Now its time to remove the crank pulley. This can be made easy with a nice 1/2 inch impact, but if you don’t have access to one, you can rent the “Honda” specific crank pulley removal tool from any auto parts store.


I’m removing the post mount (this is not necessary, but i’m changing it out from a 2 bolt to a 3 bolt one) there are x3 14mm that hold it on, and you will need to remove the lower timing cover to access the third bolt.


You can now remove the x4 10mm holding the lower timing cover on.


There is now access to everything you’ll need to get to.


Take a 14mm and loosen the tension on the timing belt tensioner, then you can slide off the old timing belt. (or you can just cut it off, but you’ll still need to loosen the bolt and remove the tensioner since we are putting a new one on)


Belt is now removed.


Since I have an impact its easy to just buzz the cam gear bolts loose. If you don’t have one, I would recommend breaking these loose before you remove the timing belt.


The cam gears must come off so you can remove and replace the came seals.


Remove the 10mm bolts for the water pump. The water pump uses a rubber gasket to seal it, this means that it might just fall off since there is no gasket maker holding it to the block. Sometime’s if it’s been replaced people will use some gasket maker to seal it along with the rubber gasket. This is not necessary, and doesn’t come from the factory that way. So if yours has gasket maker on it, then chances are its been replaced.


Mine had gasket maker on it, so it was stuck on. Again please pry carefully and make sure you have ALL bolts removed before prying.


To remove the oil pump, there is a combination of 10mm/12mm bolts holding it on, there is also the oil pick up which is inside the oil pan that needs to be unbolted and removed. The pump is also sealed with gasket maker which will make it a little difficult when trying to pull it off (since it is essentially glued to the block) be careful where you pry, you don’t want to damage any part of the block, or scar up any mating surface. (you only need to do this if you’re replacing your oil pump. Again, if you’re not replacing it and are only doing the timing belt you can leave yours on)


I wasn’t able to break loose the 12mm holding the oil pump on so I had to use a regular ratchet.


Once you have removed the 10mm/12mm bolts on the side of the oil pump, you can now rotate the engine on the stand so it’s upside down to gain access to removing the oil pump strainer.

Also, I had previously removed the oil pan to weld in the oil pan baffle. You can read about that by clicking the link below. And it will show you how to remove the oil pan.


Once the pan is removed you will now be able to access the strainer nuts/bolts (x2 10mm nuts, x2 10mm bolts)


The oil pump is now ready to be removed.


Side note… no matter how much you try and drain the oil form the engine, some will always leak.


Here’s all the new OEM Honda parts ill be installing.

  • Timing belt
  • Water pump
  • Oil pump
  • Tensioner/tensioner spring
  • Cam seals
  • Rear main seal (which i’ll be replacing when I install the clutch)
  • Cap/rotor
  • distributor “O” ring seal
  • OBD 2 distributor (since i’m converting the motor to OBD 2)
  • Spark plugs
  • Valve cover gasket
  • Oil pan gasket
  • Vtec solenoid gasket
  • Dip stick


You will have to clean all the old gasket maker off to allow for a proper seal on the new oil pump, and water pump. I just use some scotch brite. (be mindful to not get the fibers from it in any important oil areas)


When installing the new oil pump make sure you have gotten the new “O” ring seal that i’m pointing to below. (when you order a new oil pump from Honda it will not come with it, you will have to order it separately)


You’ll notice that the new oil pump will come with x2 dowels already installed. Make sure when you removed the old pump that the dowels came with it and didn’t stay in the block.


Get some Honda Bond (or similar gasket maker) and spread it around the new pump. A little goes a long way. Remember that the Honda Bond will start to cure after 5 min, so make sure you move quickly here and get the pump all bolted back on within 5 min to promote a good seal. (pro tip, take a small amount of Honda Bond and put it on the “O” ring. This will hold it in place so it doesn’t fall out when you go to install the pump)


Slide the new pump on and bolt back on, then torque the 10mm bolts to 8 lb/ft, and the 12mm bolts to 17lb/ft.


You will also notice that I removed the windage tray. I did this just to clean it up, there is no need to though. If you do remove it, the torque specs are  8 lb/ft for the 10mm bolts that hold it on.


I also cleaned up the oil strainer too. Make sure when you reinstall it that you put the small paper gasket that goes where the tube bolts to the pump.


8 lb/ft for the x2 bolts, and x2 nuts that hold it on.


Time for the new oil pan gasket. Make sure you clean the block and the oil pan really well where the gasket will sit.


On the gasket you should notice, one side of it is flat rubber and the other side has two raised ribs. Make sure the flat rubber side goes against the block and the side with the two raised ribs will go against the oil pan. Below you can see me pointing to the ribs.


The pan just simply sits on. The Factory Service Manual only requires you to put Honda Bond on these four locations. (I don’t ever use any, Just the rubber gasket has always worked for me)



Before reinstalling the nuts/bolts make sure you follow the proper sequence as illustrated below.




Everything should now all be buttoned up on the bottom side of the engine, and you can rotate it back right side up.


Install the new water pump. Make sure there is a new “O” ring (gasket) it should come with the new water pump. DO NOT USE HONDA BOND, or similar. Torque bolts to 8.7 lb/ft


Install new tensioner and spring. but do not tighten.




Remove the three 10mm bolts holding the vtec solenoid


Then remove the solenoid, and set off to the side for now.


Next I removed camshaft holder plates


Then wiggle the cam caps, and cam shaft holders off. Make sure you remember the order they go in. (note the small arrows with numbers pointing towards the “front” of the engine or the timing belt)


No you can easily slide off the old cam seals and replace with the new ones.


Next remove the “cam seal” (cylinder head plug) that’s near the vtec solenoid. Notice the lettering on the plug  “P30” see how its not parallel with the plane of the head. This has been installed wrong. (this is another great way to know that the car has been serviced)


Now I install the new one, and you see the orientation of the “P30” lettering.


I also smear a small amount of Honda Bond around the plug.


Now it’s time to reinstall the cam caps, and the cam holder plates.

For the ones at the ends of each cam shaft, you will need to put a little Honda Bond to help create a good seal. (read diagram below)Capture



Now I put the new vtec solenoid gasket in.


Reinstall vtec solenoid torque x3 10mm bolts to 8.7 lb/ft


Now that everything is back together, it’s time to start setting the timing (giggle) and install the timing belt. Begin by rotating each camshaft until the up arrows point up, and the TDC marks point inward towards each other (as seen in the diagram below)



Now you can use a 5mm punch (or like item) to lock the cams in so they stay at TDC while you slide the timing belt on. This is also a sure fire way to guarantee that you have the cams at TDC


Next thing is setting the crankshaft at TDC (top dead center) You will align the mark timing belt drive pulley with the arrow on the oil pump.



Make sure the timing belt tensioner is still loose. And now begin to install the timing belt. Start at the timing belt drive pulley, wrap it around the tensioner, then water pump, intake cam gear, and finally exhaust cam. Making sure you keep the timing belt tight on the back (intake manifold side)



DON’T forget to remove the punches you have holding the cams at TDC before you try rotating the engine.

Now I snug down the tensioner bolt, manually rotate the engine around counterclockwise 5-6 times. Now ensure that the timing is still correct. Cam gears have the up arrows point up, the punches will slide back in the cams, and the timing belt drive pulley notch lines up with the arrow on the oil pump.

If this is all correct, it’s time to set the tension of the timing belt. Start by loosening the tensioner bolt 180*, then rotate the crankshaft counterclockwise three teeth on the cam gear. Now torque the tensioner bolt to 40 lb/ft, remove the punches again and rotate the engine counterclockwise 5-6 more times then double check all you’re TDC marks align properly.


Reinstall the post mount (if you took it off) before you install the lower timing cover.


To ensure that you have the correct tension, you should be able to twist the timing belt 90* (as seen below) If you can’t then its too tight, and if you can go more, then its too loose. _DSC0904

Make sure you have installed the washers (timing belt guides) on the timing belt drive pulley in the correct orientation. See the diagrams below which direction the concave is supposed to face.




Time to install the new valve cover gasket, washers, and grommets. These are easy, just make sure you put a small amount of Honda Bond on the corner of every half circle (x8 spots) Torque valve cover to 7.2 lb/ft


Now slide the distributor on. Make sure you align distributor key (slides into the camshaft) it is offset to one side, so make sure you have it match the offset on the cam shaft. If you don’t your ignition timing will be off.

Also remember i’m switching to an OBD2 distributor so I can use my OBD2 vtec harness from my SOHC motor

I’m putting a new cap and rotor on. Begin by unscrewing the x3 Philips screws.


Now that will gain you access to the distributor rotor. If you notice, the distributor that I bought used was about to fail. (see the screw that that hold the rotor on) it’s stuck on the magnet. This would cause the rotor to slide off, and then of course you wouldn’t have spark. This is a common problem for B series and is one reason people end up converting to COP (coil on plug)


The distributor was also missing the plastic liner shield. I just took the one off my OBD1 distributor that came with the B16. Also installed the new rotor, and secured the screw with some loctite to help it from not loosening over time.


The cap also comes with a new rubber seal. Remove the old one, and just simply push the new one back in.


Install the new cap


Install the new spark plugs.


VOILA! It’s all back together and ready to go. You will want to do a valve adjustment of course before you actually start the car. (we will go over this in the next blog post)



There you have it, a comprehensive post about how to completely refresh your B16. (most of this will be the exact same, or similar for all B series engines) I’m very proud of this post because its been a while since I have done such a detailed write up. I know a lot of you have been waiting for this B16 build to start, hopefully you think it was worth the wait. Please let me know what you think about it, and if it helped you on your current project. You can Email me at Billy@functiontheory.com, DM on Instagram @Functiontheory, or just comment below. I love to interact with my readers, and would love to help you out if needed. Don’t hesitate to reach out!


7 thoughts on “B16A refresh

  1. Amazing write up, 5*s all around
    Def. worth reading this if you just bought a used swap.
    Keep it up

    Hopefully i can do a b16 swap on the hatch

  2. Very nicely detailed post. Thanks mate. Keen to see this next post on valve adjustment. I’ve got a DC2R and would be keen to see how this is done.

  3. Very nicely detailed post. Thanks mate. Keen to see this next post on valve adjustment. I’ve got a DC2R and would be keen to see how this is done.

  4. Pingback: B16a Swapped -

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