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Volvo 850 Timing Belt and Water Pump Replacement

Applies To:

1992 – 1997 Volvo 850 2.5L

Vehicle In This Guide:

1994 Volvo 850 / 2.5L engine / 238,000 miles


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.

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

Removing Timing Belt And Related Components

7. After you have everything lined up, remove the top timing cover. You will have to move the fuel line out of the way. Start by removing the 10 mm bolt that holds the first bracket. volvo 850 fuel line

Continue by removing the spark plug cover (#1). Remove the other fuel line bracket (#3). Finally remove the two bolts that hold the top timing cover in place (#2). Slide the cover out of the way. volo 850 timing cover

8. Remove the timing belt tensioner. Two bolts hold it in place. volvo 850 timing belt tensioner

Make a mental note of how the plastic bushing is oriented. Throw it away and replace with a new one. volvo 850 remove timing tensioner

9. Remove the crank sprocket cover that is held on by 10mm bolts. volvo 850 remove crank cover

10. At this point I usually just cut the belt and slide it out from the bottom. You can try and maneuver the belt out but with the limited room that there is, I find it it easier to cut the belt.

11. Now that the belt is out of the way you can go ahead and remove the additional components. I am going to replace the idler pulley (#1), the tensioner puller roller (#2), and the water pump (#3). volvo 850 timing components

12. In order to remove the tensioner pulley roller you have to remove the whole tensioner pulley assembly. There is very little room and a regular T45 socket will not fit in there. I had to buy a T45 torx bit and cut off a piece with an angle grinder. Then I used a 1/4 in. socket to hold the bit in place. Look at the pic to see the final result. volvo 850 timing tensioner pulley

13. Before removing the water pump, make sure to drain the coolant. There is a drain plug on the driver side of the radiator. volvo 850 radiator drain cog

Installing the Water Pump and Timing Belt Components

1. Remove all the old gasket material. I *carefully* used a razor blade to do the job. Use new bolts to secure the water pump. Tighten to 14.8 lb-ft. volvo 850 water pump

2. Install the timing tensioner pulley, if it was removed.

3. Install the idler pulley, if it was removed. Torque to 18 lb-ft.

4. In order to install the timing belt tensioner you have to compress the rod back inside the tensioner. Use a 6″ c-clamp or a vise if you have it. Slowly compress the rod back into the tensioner, this can easily take 5 – 8 minutes. Insert a pin to hold the rod in place. volvo 850 timing tensioner compress

5. Install the timing belt tensioner. Do not forget to install the plastic bushing. Torque to 18 lb-ft.

6. Here comes the fun part. Install the timing belt by feeding it through the bottom opening. There is very little room so you will have to bend the belt to get it through the opening. After the belt is through, reinstall the crank sprocket cover. volvo 850 timing

7. Feed the belt over the idler pulley (make sure there is zero slack here) then over the right camshaft sprocket and then the left. Continue down to the water pump and finally slide it over the tensioner pulley. It’s going to be tight so don’t be afraid to use some force. volvo 850 timing belt

8. Once the belt is on and you verified that everything is in place and torqued correctly you can remove the pin from the tensioner. Rotate the engine a couple of times to make sure that all the timing marks are aligned correctly.

9. Install the top timing cover. Install the main cover. Secure the fuel line by installing the two brackets.

10. Install the serpentine belt tensioner. Torque the bolts to 18 lb-ft.

11. Put the serpentine belt back in.

12. If you changed the water pump, then fill up the reservoir with coolant. With the reservoir cap still removed start the car and let it get up to operating temperature by keeping the rpms around 2,000. Shut it off when coolant is close to pouring out. The air bubbles will begin to escape and you will have to fill the reservoir again. Repeat until the coolant level stabilizes.

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    • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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!!

  • 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.

  • Hi, 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

  • 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 I’m 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,. I’m getting real blur.
    I don’t want to take it to wireman,.lm afraid of those $$..
    Tq very much in advance.
    I’m using 850 and live in a small town in Malaysia where a lot of Japanese car around and very2 rare of continental.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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!

  • 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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