Fixing A Common Honda S2000 Problem - Timing Chain Tensioner


Replacing the timing chain tensioner in my Honda S2000.

The timing chain tensioner is also referred to as the cam chain auto-tensioner. The S2000 uses a singular gear called the Idler Gear to sync the camshafts and crankshaft timing via timing chain. 

The type of chain, made by Borg Warner, is called a silent chain. It is extremely durable and very tough. Hardly do you ever see this timing chain break from natural wear and tear. The highest mileage S2000 Ballade Sports has encountered had about 340,000 original miles. Upon inspection of the timing chain they found all the links to be fully in tact. It is well known the F20c/F22c timing chains are so durable it has become a forgotten maintenance to ever replace the timing chain and its plastic timing guides. The timing chain is not meant to last forever, just like any timing chain it must be serviced/replaced due to chain stretch. Over time and use, the timing chain will stretch from its original length reducing timing synchronization of the camshaft and crankshaft. This retards the timing.

This leads up to the reason for Hondas timing chain tensioners failure. The noise that the OEM TCT produces is the result of the internals rattling due to the lack of spring tension. As the timing chain stretches and the plastic guides wear down, the TCT has to keep tension on the chain and guides to secure the engine from skipping timing. The TCT has an internal piston which is spring loaded and oil pressure driven. The springs push the piston forward and the threaded worm gear inside the piston keep it one directional. As the piston pushes forward on the timing chain guide it cannot retract, go backwards, due to the internally threaded worm gear. This is a ingenious design by Honda but does make an annoying noise once the piston has reached a certain point of extension. This is where we saw a need to have a stronger TCT.

The Ballade TCT is a billet aluminum body similar to the OEM cast aluminum design. Ballade Sports omitted some of the oil galleys in their design versus the Honda design to increase oil pressure. They also increased the spring rate on the internal piston to compensate for the stretched timing chain and guides.

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About this video
Video by Engineering Explained
Duration 12:01
Series Automotive
Tags autos & vehicles

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