3.5L Ecoboost Timing Chain Replacement

Hopefully you've got the annoying parts out of the way by now.  I do not yet have instructions to remove the front cover on each vehicle, but those are coming soon. Below you will find instructions on replacement of the timing chain after the front cover has been removed. Remember, the 3 jaw harmonic balancer removal tool is the correct tool you NEED to get the harmonic balancer off. Don't try the "fancy" dual pry bar trick.

With the front cover removed, you can start the important part of the job and get the chain replaced. Before removing the old chains, you want to get everything in position. The crankshaft will need to turned so that the timing mark on the crankshaft sprocket is at the 4 o'clock position. You need to then look at the camshaft sprockets and be sure the left bank has the "L" at the top of the sprocket and the right bank has the "R" at the top of the sprocket. If they are at the bottom and upside down, you need to rotate the crankshaft an additional 180 degrees.

At this point, you should no longer have to move the crankshaft and doing so with the chain off could bend valves. If you have access to the Camshaft Timing Tools that I told you to acquire before starting this project, you can now install them. You need to remove the variable camshaft timing solenoid and housing assembly. There are a 3 bolts per side, and once you have those out just pull outward on the housing to release it from the phaser / camshaft sprocket. You can now remove the primary chain tensioner, tensioner arm, and the guide located under the left cylinder head which will allow you to remove the primary chain.

If you are replacing the primary chain only, you can skip some of these next steps, but I recommend at least reading through them. Removing the secondary chains is pretty straight forward. You need to remove the TP55 bolt that holds the phaser on, which is the intake camshaft sprocket. Use a backup wrench on the slots to hold the camshaft if not using the camshaft holding tool. On second thought, use a backup wrench either way to avoid damaging the timing tools. Pull on the phaser and it should slide off with ease allowing you to remove the secondary chain with it. Do this to both sides. There are 2 bolts on each secondary chain tensioner to remove those if replacing.

The exhaust sprocket has the timing mark machined on the outside. If you flip the phaser over, you will clearly see the timing mark. Make note of it's location as it's somewhat hard to see once you bolt it back on but you can see it if you look. It lines directly up with the key way. Your new chains are marked with black links.

If not using the camshaft holding tool, the cams may have rotated. You need to align the flats on the cams so that your wrench is sticking straight up. The slots are located just behind the sprockets inside the valve cover area. The flats will face the walls of the cylinder head.

Keep this in mind: the left bank will have it's cams unloaded (no valves open) and the right bank will have a set of valves open. If needing to rotate the right bank to center the tool / wrench flats, you will fight valve spring pressure and if you go to far it will want to jump the other way. You need it right in the middle point, where you have the valve fully compressed and the lobe so it is not forcing the camshaft to turn either direction. This is literally the only point at which it is handy to have the camshaft holding tools, but with a littler persistence you can work through it. Once you are sitting in front of the camshaft, you will know exactly what I mean.

If you are replacing the secondary tensioners then need to be installed before the secondary chains but do not pull the pin until after the chain is set. Starting with the left bank, position one black link backwards on the removed phaser and set the other black link forwards on the mark on the exhaust sprocket. Now simply slide the phaser onto the camshaft and install a new bolt. Double check your work with the pictures I provided: phaser installed and exhaust sprocket installed. Do this with the right bank as well. Using a wrench or the holding tool, torque down the camshaft sprocket bolts you removed and replaced to 30 ft/lbs, loosen one full turn, then torque to 89 in/lbs, and finish it off with an additional 90 degrees.

Installing the primary chain is easy. Locate the three different sets of colored links in the chain. Align the single yellow link on the timing mark on the right phaser, route the chain under the idler / water pump depending on application, then the single gold link on the timing mark on the left phaser, and the double gold link split over the timing mark on the crankshaft. It may be possible you have to slightly rotate the crankshaft to align the links on the bottom so go ahead and do so without worrying. Install the tensioner arm and the chain tensioner. Check your work with the pictures I provided.

Now install the vct solenoids and housings back into the phasers on each side. Do note that there are 4 seals per side you should replace. Make sure all locking pins are pulled from the tensioners. The front cover will need to be sealed with Motorcraft TA-357 special RTV. There are bolt boses that need to be sealed in the middle of the block for the water pump attachment bolts / motor mounts on a front wheel drive. Clean your gasket surfaces with a razor blade. Pay close attention to all locations with RTV that needs to be removed and replaced with new. After applying it to your cleaned front cover, but that baby on and tighten all those bolts down. You're ready to assemble the rest of the vehicle.