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General Discussions about the 300M and other LHs

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 #390023  by RobNJ
For fear of being shamed off the site, I am hesitant of telling how old the belt is on my car. I bought the car in 2015 with 36K on it. It has 92K now. I have a receipt from previous owner for a water pump at 34K miles, but never mentioned belt or did price reflect the belt. I knew I was going to do the job and bought everything needed in 2015 (belt, tensioer pulley, tensioner, crank pulley, water pump (Mopar not v-line pump), accessory pulleys).
I use the car a little different from a usual daily driver, as I get to use company cars during the week, so it really only gets driven home on weekends and sits outside (unfortunately) the rest of the time. I use Fluid Film on the car, which think has saved it from the brine and rust of NJ. I also use Boeshield under hood on all aluminum surfaces. So if you ever see the engine it looks grimy, but its just because the coatings are collecting dirt instead of corroding.
Every year in my fall oil change routine I take off the cam cover and with coils unhooked, I have someone tap over the engine one full revolution. I put a chalk mark on the belt to mark start/end. I also look for any water pump leaks using a mirror and light. Each year I tell myself I am going to do it, but since the belt looked perfect, put it off. Now at 20 years, I figured, ok I better do this and the long weekend was the time.
I hate being the 2nd person in on a job as the previous guy messed up a few things. Stripped off headlight bolt head and broke a fascia clip on the drivers side to the fender. Always wondered why that looked off. I am also thinking he used the wrong puller on the crank pulley as it was wobbly since I got the car. I also had one of those in stock.
Part of the job was to replace all of the trans cooler rubber lines, which I posted about, wont duplicate that here.
I got to use one of my new Christmas presents on this job. I got a Mini Ductor example unit I got mine for under $200 with the case and tip assortment, so search around. A guy at work got one and I borrowed it for my aliment and battery replacement. For the rear tie rod it freed it in about 20 seconds and for the battery brace, it freed that bolt in like 30 seconds. I was sold. For this job the bolt that holds the condenser on the radiator was stuck and as you know there is zero room in there unless you pull the bumper. I was able to thread it down there, heat and use some penetrate and it freed up. There was a pile of corrosion on the bolt as it came out. I work on a lot of vehicles (too many according to my wife) and my hobby is auto restoration, so for me this tool was worth it.
I decided to replace the radiator while i was doing this job as it is 20 years old and plastic/aluminum. I had a bad experience with my Mother in laws 2003 Neon this past summer where her radiator cooler for the trans let go and pumped coolant through the trans. I figured, the $100 it costs for a Spectra radiator was insurance of sorts. Spectra radiator on Amazon Oddly enough my car does not have the engine oil cooler. I am actually glad as there are less lines to worry about failing.
Crank pulley was in sad shape, the rubber was breaking apart. So glad I got one of these.
Timing belt was for sure original. Date code on it was 431 or 43rd week of 2001 and my car was made 12-01. It was in pretty amazing shape. Not a crack, split, odd wear, nothing, even when you bent it a tight radius. It was a bit shiny on the back side, but that's it. My timing was slightly off on bank 1, but not sure if that was stretch or when the previous guy put back together. I did buy a new Gates belt for this job, made in 2021.
The replacement tensioner pulley from mopar is a new design. The new one has no rubber pad that the tensioner pin rides on. Instead its heat treated metal. Old pulley was a bit dry sounding when spun.
Cant tell what brand water pump they had on it, was a plastic impeller, but no name. It did hold up well. Had a slight bit of crunchy stuff from the weep hole, but not much at all.
Besides radiator, I decided it was time to do all coolant hoses and thermostat I always use mopar coolant BTW. The radiator hoses were pretty spongy. The thermostat was more of a headache to do then I figured. What a stupid location. With the radiator out, gave me better view, and unbolting the alternator and tipping up helped as well. That little silicone hose to the coolant bypass pipe killed me getting that clamp on. For some reason my KD hose clamp pliers could not open these clamps up enough to slide over. I thought I could slide that clamp on from the pipe side after the thermostat was on, but nope. I had to take off thermostat and put on the hose side, middle and then slide over from that direction. That was time wasted. Old thermostat was getting rough looking for sure.
I then moved on to the heater hoses. I had purchased from mopar the entire spaghetti of hoses on the metal tube like this heater hoses but once I saw where that tube ran and since my tube looked ok, I decided to pass on changing that. Just changed the hoses. Once again my hose clamp pliers failed to open some of the clamps enough, so it was a struggle. The one hose under the intake was the main pain-point. Eventually I won.
While I had the cowl and strut brace off, I was able to swap on a used brace I picked up at a yard recently. For some odd reason, even though my car is very clean, this is one part that rusted bad. I saw a little rust showing from the engine bay under the weather seal a while back. Took off the brace to clean it up and saw all the holes under it. I think it is a place where moisture collects and it rots out from the inside out. The junkyard part was clean, so I filled it with fluid film before putting on.

So after all of this, its back on the road and running fine. Maybe its my imagination, but feels to be pulling a little stronger now too.
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 #390024  by RobNJ
Some additional photos
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 #390025  by First Lady
Awesome documentation and congrats on all that work!! Definitely a busy weekend but you crushed it!!
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 #390034  by FIREM
Good to here all went well. Have seen a few rotted tower braces but they look worse once removed.
I have changed a lot of timing belts and they always “look” good. (Except the one that had actually failed due to an idler bearing failure)
There is a guy on the Prowler site that has tested many belts by stretching to failure. His results are scary to say the least. Even low mileage/gently used but aged belts fail easily.
Good to know you got “the pin back in the grenade”
Familiar with those marathon maintenance jobs, feeling of accomplishment is always worth a few HP to the seat of the pants dyno.