• Welcome to Mazdas247, the 24/7 Mazda Community and Resource. Learn about the benefits of becoming a Member here.
  • We're an Amazon Associate and eBay Partner. We earn from qualifying purchases.

CX-9 Timing Chain, Water Pump, and VVT - Engine does not need to be removed

:
2011 Mazda CX9
Accessing the timing chain, water pump, and VVT actuators require removal of the timing chain cover which there seems to be some debate on if the engine needs to be removed to accomplish this. The Mazda service manual says to remove it, but I think that is just because it is a tight fit and there is not a lot of room to work with. Most people would not want to remove the engine just to replace one of these components and luckily we do not have to. I just completed replacement of all of these parts in my 2011 Mazda CX-9 and the engine did not need to be removed. I did have to raise and lower the engine as needed to access bolts and remove the timing chain cover, but that is not unusual when replacing a timing chain on most front-wheel drive vehicles. I'm working on the DIY for this, which may take me a week or two, but wanted to start up the thread for this.
 
:
2011 Mazda CX9
To explain on why/when replacement may be necessary, here is my 2 cents:

If the water pump fails, you'll know it. Coolant will get into your crankcase and turn the oil into mud. This is bad, really bad. From the other threads, it seems cost to have this work done is around $2K (plus or minus). If you have to replace the water pump, you may want to replace the primary chain while you are in there. It is only $30-$40 for OEM replacement and although chains do not typically break the way timing belts do, they can stretch over time. Besides, the primary chain has to come off to remove the water pump anyways.

Timing chain issues on this engine seem to be related to it becoming noisy. It is even possible for it jump in extreme circumstances, such as a collision. If it jumps, you may get a P0016 code for crankshaft and camshaft position correlation (P0016 being for bank 1 - the right side of the engine which is closest to the firewall). A noise condition could be due to the chain stretching or the tensioner failing. So if you are in there for any reason (such as water pump replacement), I would say replace the tensioner along with the primary chain, it is a small investment that may save you pain down the road.

VVT Actuators can potentially fail and they may give you the same type of code as a chain that skips, like a P0016 code. Very difficult to diagnose and this is what brought me to opening up my engine. These are a bit pricey (around $100-$150 each and you need one for the right and one for the left). I had the P0016 code which I think was due to the chain, but have read about these failing so I went ahead and replaced both of them. A bigger price investment, but I did not want to have to go back in.

The parts can really start to add up, so you may need to make some decisions on what you want to replace while you are in there. I went the expensive route and just replaced everything within reasonl, including chain guides, valve cover gaskets, and spark plugs.

I'll do a more intensive DIY, but the basics are as follows:
Disconnect battery
Drain Oil (and leave the plug out)
Drain coolant
Remove airbox
Remove intake manifold
Remove valve covers
Remove belts (AC and Power Steering)
Remove power steering pump
Remove engine mount on the passenger frame (be sure to support engine)
Remove crankshaft pulley
Remove bracket that was attached to the engine mount
Remove Serpentine Belt Tensioner
Remove timing cover

That will get you access to all the items of interest (timing chain, water pump, VVT actuators)

From there, you need to be really careful with aligning the crankshaft and camshafts to the proper position, marking the timing chain, locking down the camshafts if you are replacing VVTs, and of course realignment of everything for when the chain goes back on. There will be a big gush of coolant that comes out when you pull the water pump, so be ready for it and use plastic to block of the oil pan from that rush of coolant. Even after draining the coolant from the radiator drain plug there is a lot still sitting in the engine. When I re-filled coolant after the repair it took a little over two gallons to top it off.

I'll include a list of parts and tools used in the DIY, but it wasn't anything too crazy. It can be done without air tools, although air tools always make it a bit easier. I only used my air tools to remove the crankshaft bolt, but there are ways of doing it without it.
 
:
2010 CX-9
This will be a huge help as the gen 1 CX-9 ages and will undoubtedly need water pump replacements. Thanks for doing this!!!
 
:
Mazda CX-9
Accessing the timing chain, water pump, and VVT actuators require removal of the timing chain cover which there seems to be some debate on if the engine needs to be removed to accomplish this. The Mazda service manual says to remove it, but I think that is just because it is a tight fit and there is not a lot of room to work with. Most people would not want to remove the engine just to replace one of these components and luckily we do not have to. I just completed replacement of all of these parts in my 2011 Mazda CX-9 and the engine did not need to be removed. I did have to raise and lower the engine as needed to access bolts and remove the timing chain cover, but that is not unusual when replacing a timing chain on most front-wheel drive vehicles. I'm working on the DIY for this, which may take me a week or two, but wanted to start up the thread for this.
I'm looking forward to your DIY on this. I plan to do this on my 08 CX-9 as well. So I'll wait until you post it here. Thanks a lot!
 
:
Mazda CX-9
To explain on why/when replacement may be necessary, here is my 2 cents:

If the water pump fails, you'll know it. Coolant will get into your crankcase and turn the oil into mud. This is bad, really bad. From the other threads, it seems cost to have this work done is around $2K (plus or minus). If you have to replace the water pump, you may want to replace the primary chain while you are in there. It is only $30-$40 for OEM replacement and although chains do not typically break the way timing belts do, they can stretch over time. Besides, the primary chain has to come off to remove the water pump anyways.

Timing chain issues on this engine seem to be related to it becoming noisy. It is even possible for it jump in extreme circumstances, such as a collision. If it jumps, you may get a P0016 code for crankshaft and camshaft position correlation (P0016 being for bank 1 - the right side of the engine which is closest to the firewall). A noise condition could be due to the chain stretching or the tensioner failing. So if you are in there for any reason (such as water pump replacement), I would say replace the tensioner along with the primary chain, it is a small investment that may save you pain down the road.

VVT Actuators can potentially fail and they may give you the same type of code as a chain that skips, like a P0016 code. Very difficult to diagnose and this is what brought me to opening up my engine. These are a bit pricey (around $100-$150 each and you need one for the right and one for the left). I had the P0016 code which I think was due to the chain, but have read about these failing so I went ahead and replaced both of them. A bigger price investment, but I did not want to have to go back in.

The parts can really start to add up, so you may need to make some decisions on what you want to replace while you are in there. I went the expensive route and just replaced everything within reasonl, including chain guides, valve cover gaskets, and spark plugs.

I'll do a more intensive DIY, but the basics are as follows:
Disconnect battery
Drain Oil (and leave the plug out)
Drain coolant
Remove airbox
Remove intake manifold
Remove valve covers
Remove belts (AC and Power Steering)
Remove power steering pump
Remove engine mount on the passenger frame (be sure to support engine)
Remove crankshaft pulley
Remove bracket that was attached to the engine mount
Remove Serpentine Belt Tensioner
Remove timing cover

That will get you access to all the items of interest (timing chain, water pump, VVT actuators)

From there, you need to be really careful with aligning the crankshaft and camshafts to the proper position, marking the timing chain, locking down the camshafts if you are replacing VVTs, and of course realignment of everything for when the chain goes back on. There will be a big gush of coolant that comes out when you pull the water pump, so be ready for it and use plastic to block of the oil pan from that rush of coolant. Even after draining the coolant from the radiator drain plug there is a lot still sitting in the engine. When I re-filled coolant after the repair it took a little over two gallons to top it off.

I'll include a list of parts and tools used in the DIY, but it wasn't anything too crazy. It can be done without air tools, although air tools always make it a bit easier. I only used my air tools to remove the crankshaft bolt, but there are ways of doing it without it.
It seems that some were saying that the water pump is between the engine and transmission. But by your description of the take-down process I don't see this. Also, would it make sense to go ahead and redo the head gaskets on mine since I have 168,000 miles on my CX9?
 

Pootie Tang

Certifiable
After spending HOURS trying to figure out WHERE this water pump is, using Google search, forums, and finally Wikipedia on the CX-9 and the Duratec 37 engine (35 for 2007 models) which I think goes through 2010, the pump is located on the passenger side of the engine (not the driver's side), in between the timing chains. If you are looking at the engine with the hood up from the front bumper, it will be on your left, behind the accessory belt. It is part of the timing chain loop.

Here is a great video of a mechanic having to replace the water pump on a 2010 Ford Flex which uses the same Duratec 35 (identical to the 37 for this purpose). It is a very involved job. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjMgagyP0SI

Also, I wouldn't touch the headgaskets. Headgaskets are not a regular service item and usually never need to be changed unless the engine overheats severely.

Use Mazda factory coolant and distilled water for the cooling system to minimize your risk of pump failure.
 
Last edited:
:
Mazda CX-9
After spending HOURS trying to figure out WHERE this water pump is, using Google search, forums, and finally Wikipedia on the CX-9 and the Duratec 37 engine (35 for 2007 models) which I think goes through 2010, the pump is located on the passenger side of the engine (not the driver's side), in between the timing chains. If you are looking at the engine with the hood up from the front bumper, it will be on your left, behind the accessory belt. It is part of the timing chain loop.

Here is a great video of a mechanic having to replace the water pump on a 2010 Ford Flex which uses the same Duratec 37. It is a very involved job. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjMgagyP0SI

Also, I wouldn't touch the headgaskets. Headgaskets are not a regular service item and usually never need to be changed unless the engine overheats severely.

Use Mazda factory coolant and distilled water for the cooling system to minimize your risk of pump failure.
Okay, good to know. I haven't had any issues, but I have 168,000 miles on the 2008 and wanted to be sure. I may have to do the water pump replacement next summer then. Seems fine for now at least. I want this vehicle to hit 300,000 miles so I want to do all I can to make sure it hits that. Sick of car payments for now.
 
:
2011 Mazda CX9
I didn't go as far as head gaskets, not sure if they have much risk for failure. If you have 168k, you definitely want to replace any of the moving parts in the timing chain section. I only replaced the primary chain as it is the highest risk for stretching due to being much longer than the camshaft chains. I didn't mention the details beyond getting the timing cover off as it is really simple once you get to that point, although I can show it in the DIY. The water pump is easy once exposed, the real trick is getting all three timing chains aligned. I took all of them off because I replaced the VVT actuators while I was in there.

Here is a pic of the actual water pump, it is in the center of the timing chain path and it is driven by the timing chain:
Mazda CX9 Timing Chain-2.jpg
 
:
Mazda CX-9
I didn't go as far as head gaskets, not sure if they have much risk for failure. If you have 168k, you definitely want to replace any of the moving parts in the timing chain section. I only replaced the primary chain as it is the highest risk for stretching due to being much longer than the camshaft chains. I didn't mention the details beyond getting the timing cover off as it is really simple once you get to that point, although I can show it in the DIY. The water pump is easy once exposed, the real trick is getting all three timing chains aligned. I took all of them off because I replaced the VVT actuators while I was in there.

Here is a pic of the actual water pump, it is in the center of the timing chain path and it is driven by the timing chain:
View attachment 215244
Wow... that's a pretty sexy looking unit if I say so myself. Looks like a fun job. I plan to do it myself as well. I have to say that water-pump does look like high quality. Not a junk part at all.
 
:
2008 Mazda CX-9 Touring FWD . 2014 CX-5 GT FWD
After spending HOURS trying to figure out WHERE this water pump is, using Google search, forums, and finally Wikipedia on the CX-9 and the Duratec 37 engine (35 for 2007 models) which I think goes through 2010, the pump is located on the passenger side of the engine (not the driver's side), in between the timing chains. If you are looking at the engine with the hood up from the front bumper, it will be on your left, behind the accessory belt. It is part of the timing chain loop.

Here is a great video of a mechanic having to replace the water pump on a 2010 Ford Flex which uses the same Duratec 37. It is a very involved job. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjMgagyP0SI

Also, I wouldn't touch the headgaskets. Headgaskets are not a regular service item and usually never need to be changed unless the engine overheats severely.

Use Mazda factory coolant and distilled water for the cooling system to minimize your risk of pump failure.
Great video link.

Not to be too picky, but the Flex used the Duratec 35, not the 37. Only the 2007 CX-9 got the smaller 35 version. 2008-2015 CX-9's used the Duratec 37 which is just a bigger bore version of the same engine design.

Unfortunately for every CX-9 owner up until 2016, we all have the same potential problem as the water pump on both engines is the same goofy internal design.
 
:
Mazda CX-9
I didn't go as far as head gaskets, not sure if they have much risk for failure. If you have 168k, you definitely want to replace any of the moving parts in the timing chain section. I only replaced the primary chain as it is the highest risk for stretching due to being much longer than the camshaft chains. I didn't mention the details beyond getting the timing cover off as it is really simple once you get to that point, although I can show it in the DIY. The water pump is easy once exposed, the real trick is getting all three timing chains aligned. I took all of them off because I replaced the VVT actuators while I was in there.

Here is a pic of the actual water pump, it is in the center of the timing chain path and it is driven by the timing chain:
View attachment 215244
Hey guess what? My pump started leaking. I just noticed coolant in my oil yesterday. There's very little in it as of yet, but I went ahead and put the vehicle out of commission in the garage. Now to tear it down.
 

GJ-Molestor

Banned
:
2011 BMW 528i, 2015 Mazda 6, 1995 Nissan Maxima Manual
Thanks very much for this post, this is helpful for anyone who got the v6 engine. I have absolutely no idea why Mazdas engineers placed the water pump where they did, but oh well...

Timing chains are supposed to be good for the life of the engine, but it is more likely to become stretched if you do not change the oil regularly.

I’m not sure if th VVT mechanism is oil-pressure related (it likely is) but again, very important to keep your oil nice and clean.
 
:
2008 Mazda CX-9 Touring FWD . 2014 CX-5 GT FWD
Thanks very much for this post, this is helpful for anyone who got the v6 engine. I have absolutely no idea why Mazdas engineers placed the water pump where they did, but oh well...

Timing chains are supposed to be good for the life of the engine, but it is more likely to become stretched if you do not change the oil regularly.

Im not sure if th VVT mechanism is oil-pressure related (it likely is) but again, very important to keep your oil nice and clean.
I hesitate posting to this old resurrected thread, but the above statements require a response.

While the location of the water pump is a pain for everyone concerned, it is becoming a very common location in transverse-mounted engines with tiny engine bays. The ease of installing the engine during manufacture was clearly more important than ease of service. (the same goes for the right bank of spark plugs)

Regular oil changes have almost zero effect on timing chain elongation/failure - heat does. Yes, bad lube increases friction, but the chain has very small contact points unlike pistons, etc..

If the engine overheats for any reason, the timing chain metal can be damaged on a molecular level just like any other metal part. All metals stretch and timing chains are no exception. If the timing chain alloy was too inelastic it would damage other components so in many respects it is the weakest link (pun intended) by design. That having been said, timing chains do wear out and elongate due to the link pins wearing over many many miles but this unlikely event is the least of your worries in this engine.

The VVT in this engine is dependent on oil pressure. The solenoids activate little 'valves' that are protected by screens and allow the VVT to change the timing when required. Dirty oil can foul these screens and stop the VVT from operating correctly. Note that a faulty VVT will not stop the engine from running but will affect mileage and power response.


For more information and pics of the water pump, timing chain, and VVT go here:
https://www.mazdas247.com/forum/showthread.php?123863307-CX-9-Water-Pump-Replacement-DIY-Guide
 

GJ-Molestor

Banned
:
2011 BMW 528i, 2015 Mazda 6, 1995 Nissan Maxima Manual
I hesitate posting to this old resurrected thread, but the above statements require a response.

While the location of the water pump is a pain for everyone concerned, it is becoming a very common location in transverse-mounted engines with tiny engine bays. The ease of installing the engine during manufacture was clearly more important than ease of service. (the same goes for the right bank of spark plugs)

Regular oil changes have almost zero effect on timing chain elongation/failure - heat does. Yes, bad lube increases friction, but the chain has very small contact points unlike pistons, etc..

If the engine overheats for any reason, the timing chain metal can be damaged on a molecular level just like any other metal part. All metals stretch and timing chains are no exception. If the timing chain alloy was too inelastic it would damage other components so in many respects it is the weakest link (pun intended) by design. That having been said, timing chains do wear out and elongate due to the link pins wearing over many many miles but this unlikely event is the least of your worries in this engine.

The VVT in this engine is dependent on oil pressure. The solenoids activate little 'valves' that are protected by screens and allow the VVT to change the timing when required. Dirty oil can foul these screens and stop the VVT from operating correctly. Note that a faulty VVT will not stop the engine from running but will affect mileage and power response.


For more information and pics of the water pump, timing chain, and VVT go here:
https://www.mazdas247.com/forum/showthread.php?123863307-CX-9-Water-Pump-Replacement-DIY-Guide
thank you for the response, very helpful.

I mentioned the timing chain issue because it's a very common issue with the 2012+ BMW 28i models equipped with the turbocharged 4 cylinder. apparently people were experiencing timing chain failures attributed to BMW's very lengthy oil change intervals, but I suspect this is the case because BMW purposely uses plastic timing chain guides in their 4 cylinder and V8 models which constantly fail.
 
:
2008 Mazda CX-9 Touring FWD . 2014 CX-5 GT FWD
thank you for the response, very helpful.

I mentioned the timing chain issue because it's a very common issue with the 2012+ BMW 28i models equipped with the turbocharged 4 cylinder. apparently people were experiencing timing chain failures attributed to BMW's very lengthy oil change intervals, but I suspect this is the case because BMW purposely uses plastic timing chain guides in their 4 cylinder and V8 models which constantly fail.
FYI, Just about every manufacturer uses a plastic material on the chain guides including Mazda. The plastic is the wear layer. Metal would be far noisier and would risk metal filings from chain and guide wear.

As an aside, the failures on E38/E39 BMW engines (I used to own a E38, 7-series = expensive junk) were due to the plastic layer coming loose from the metal substructure on the old engines. The newer BMW parts are sometimes all plastic which boggles my mind even more. They solved the "coming" loose problem by eliminating the metal entirely! Similar designs have been used by Jaguar, VW and others with similar bad results. In a lot of these cases, the tensioners failed first and stressed the plastics into failure.

I am happy that only the wear layer is involved in the CX-9 V6 guides and I have yet to hear of anyone with a failed timing chain guide in our engines.
 

GJ-Molestor

Banned
:
2011 BMW 528i, 2015 Mazda 6, 1995 Nissan Maxima Manual
FYI, Just about every manufacturer uses a plastic material on the chain guides including Mazda. The plastic is the wear layer. Metal would be far noisier and would risk metal filings from chain and guide wear.

As an aside, the failures on E38/E39 BMW engines (I used to own a E38, 7-series = expensive junk) were due to the plastic layer coming loose from the metal substructure on the old engines. The newer BMW parts are sometimes all plastic which boggles my mind even more. They solved the "coming" loose problem by eliminating the metal entirely! Similar designs have been used by Jaguar, VW and others with similar bad results. In a lot of these cases, the tensioners failed first and stressed the plastics into failure.

I am happy that only the wear layer is involved in the CX-9 V6 guides and I have yet to hear of anyone with a failed timing chain guide in our engines.
I don't know what they did with their 6 cylinder vehicles (their inline 6 engines are very good) but I don't recall any of them - new or old ever having any sort of timing chain/chain guide issues. Mazda and BMW overall have rather similar designs for their inline engines.
 
G

Guest2018

...Most people would not want to remove the engine just to replace one of these components and luckily we do not have to. I just completed replacement of all of these parts in my 2011 Mazda CX-9 and the engine did not need to be removed...
And old thread for sure. I read part of it and posted my lament. Had to delete and retype something current. Glad to see you get this potentially draconian job sorted out without removal of the entire engine per Mazda's spec. This was really good to hear for your sake. However, it makes me wonder Mazda's Accessory Design strategy and whether or not that carried over into the redesigned versions. I have not yet been that deep into the engine compartment on my 2018, but this thread has given a very good reason to start that exploration - just to see what I might run into in the future.

Thanks for the post and congrats on the "workaround."
 
Top