Volvo 850 Timing Belt and Water Pump Replacement

The 850 has proven to be one of Volvo's most safest and reliable cars. There are many 850's still on the road today that have well over 200 thousand miles on the odometer. Of course maintenance is the key to a car's long life and changing the timing belt is one task that you eventually will have to perform. This guide will go through the timing belt removal and installation procedure. Because of the high mileage on this car, I will also replace the idler roller, tensioner pulley roller, and the water pump. If, during an inspection, the water pump does not make any unusual noises when rotated and does not have any coolant seeping out of the weep hole then a replacement is not necessary.

Vehicle Specs:

  • 1994 Volvo 850
  • 2.4L N/A Inline 5
  • ~238,000 miles

Removing Accessories And Setting Correct Timing

1. Start off by setting the car on jack stands and removing the passenger side wheel.

2. Lift up the coolant reservoir by depressing the center clip, remove the sensor connector, and with the hose still attached, move the reservoir to the side. volvo 850 coolant reservoir

3. Next step is to remove the serpentine belt. If you have something that can release the tension on the belt then go ahead and use that. I find it easier to just unbolt the tensioner and remove it all together. It is held on by two bolts. volvo 850 drive belt tensioner

4. Once you have the belt off, put the tensioner back in and slightly screw in the top bolt. This will allow you to swing the tensioner out and insert a 1" inch drive ratchet. Use the ratchet to rotate the tensioner so that you can lock it by placing something through the lock hole. Once you have it locked, remove the tensioner. volvo 850 serpentine belt

5. Remove the front timing cover that is held in with one 12mm bolt.

6. Next step is to line up all of the timing marks. There is an access cover in the wheel well. Use that to gain access to the crank bolt. Use a ratchet to rotate the crank clockwise until all of the marks align. volvo 850 crankshaft access cover

Rotate the engine until you line up the the groove in the crank sprocket with the mark in the block. This groove is very hard to see so you will more than likely have to do several rotations until you can line it up. volvo 850 timing mark

Here is a close up of the groove. volvo 850 timing mark zoomed in

When you line up the crankshaft, the camshaft marks will line up with the cut outs in the timing cover. However, this 850 did not have any marks on the camshafts from the factory. If you run into this, double check that you have lined up the crankshaft correctly and mark the camshafts as I have done here. volvo 850 camshaft timing marks

# Bob Robeson 2013-10-26 22:40
Wow! You do good work! You make it look so easy. Great pictures, well lit and clear. This tutorial is a work of art.

Thanks much,
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# Artem Vestsorov 2013-10-27 15:13
Glad you found it helpful. This was one of the first guides that I wrote. I remember being surprised at how straight forward it was to change the timing belt on that car. Long live the 850! Haha.
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# nick 2013-12-05 23:30
Nice job nothing bets the simplicity. And reliability of these old volvos I have several cars New and old but by far my most reliable is my 1975 volvo 245 with the b20 engine. It was 5 degrees out this morning and it fired right up after not been started for weeks 375,000 mi strong.
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# Artem Vestsorov 2013-12-09 20:50
Friend of mine had owned a 240. Now THAT thing was a tank. I believe it was close to the 250,000 mile mark when he sold it and it was still running great at that point.
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# Davey Nadeau 2014-07-25 17:09
The tensioner pulley was the hardest bolt for me to free up, much too tight for a T45 driver bit in a 1/4 drive 7mm socket. I was barely able to get a Torx socket in there with a 3/8 breaker bar on it, with a pipe as a breaker bar. There was no room for the socket on a ratchet. Once the bolt was loose and backing out there was much less room so I used a T45 driver bit in a 7mm socket as a speeder to spin it out the rest of the way. Very tight work
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# Ken 2014-11-18 15:22
Just want to say thanks for putting this together.
Made a seemingly complex repair, straightforward.

A great write-up!
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# Stig 2014-12-30 19:40
Thank you for your instructions. They were very helpful. My son in law and me pulled of the job in 3 hours, after reading this website.
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# JB 2015-03-18 00:12
Heck of a tutorial. I will be attempting this either tomorrow or over the weekend. Is the notch on the cam that tiny indentation? It is hard to tell in the photo as everything is about the same color. To be honest I don't want to foul it up as it is my fathers car.
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# Artem Vestsorov 2015-03-18 01:07
If you are talking about the crank timing gear (step 6), then yes that little notch is what you will be looking for.
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# Lee 2015-04-22 13:11
There is a big mark on the crank right behind the crank pulley that you can see if you look real hard and have good light as well. Ive ran across a few 850s with no notches in the crank gear.. Great write up!!
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# Robert Bickford 2015-06-09 21:10
I can't can darn belt do tight tried two makes of belts driven me nuts .
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# Robert Bickford 2015-06-09 21:12
Sorry can't get belt on
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# Brian Lee 2015-06-24 04:30
Getting the right parts replaced at the right time not only enhances the performance of your vehicle, but it will also get you a better price when you decide to sell your car. So make sure you keep your car up to the mark and do not hesitate in spending a few bucks on maintenance every once in a while.
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# Chris Boxer 2016-01-13 21:44
Hi Artem, just to say many thanks for these instructions. I used them to replace the timing belt, water pump, idler pulley and tensioner pulley on my recently-acquir ed 1997 850 Wagon. I followed your clear steps to the letter, and feel pretty proud with the result. I really appreciate the time you put into this. Best regards, Chris
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# Artem Vestsorov 2016-01-14 19:38
Nice to see that people are still making use of this guide. Thanks for stopping by :)
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# abubakar 2016-05-24 19:09
Dear Sir,.
My fuel pump fuse burn out as every time l replace a new one and when l put(modified those fuse 15amp with a thicker wire round and like a small hand sewing needle)its looks and get a little bit better but lm afraid any catastrophic impact will do.
My headlamp and signal lamp including indicator on those speedometer panel also not working,.but sometimes it suddenly appear and working as usual and will be not at any time.
Please help,.lm getting real blur.
I dont want to take it to wireman,.lm afraid of those $$..
Tq very much in advance.
Im using 850 and live in a small town in Malaysia where a lot of Japanese car arrond and very2 rare of continental.
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# abubakar 2016-05-24 19:11
1996 850 5254 engine 20v.
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# abubakar 2016-05-24 19:19
And theres a hazard click clock sound under/nearly(so sure) under/in passangger site dashboard.
Please tell me what l have and should do to fix them.
Again tq.
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# Paul Jones 2016-07-26 12:02
Great blog! The content is indepth and informative and all readers have something to learn! We all hate repairing our timing belt. This blog gets 5 out of 5 from me! Well Done.
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# Phillip 2016-07-29 17:42
Is it required to line up the cam before replacing the water pump? I understand the need to line the notches, but why can this step not be done at the end of.the installation?
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# Phillip 2016-08-02 20:41
Trying to remove #2, then tensioner pulley roller, and the t45 is stripped. Anyone have any ideas how to get the bolt out? Ive bought lisle extractor bit set, but there is such a limited space to work with. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
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# arla hooser 2016-08-25 19:27
Trying to replace timing belt on 2004 Volvo S60 2.5t. Got everything on but the timing belt won't stay in the middle. It wants to move to the left instead of staying in the middle of the tensioner. Any ideas on how to make it stay straight?
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# Tim 2017-06-17 13:10
at how many miles should I change the timing belt on my 1995 Volvo 850?
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# mike88se 2017-06-20 12:43
Volvo says it should be changed every 70,000 miles.
I CANNOT for the life of me find that groove/notch in the crank gear.
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