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


2011 BMW 528i, 2015 Mazda 6, 1995 Nissan Maxima Manual
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."

fitting a large displacement v6 into a FWD vehicle is no easy task. there were certainly compromises to be made. this is probably one of the reasons why mazda switched to a 2.5 turbo - more space to work on within the engine bay and a simpler design = less manufacturing costs for Mazda, and the turbo makes peak torque at a much more reasonable RPM. it's a win win situation?


fitting a large displacement v6 into a FWD vehicle is no easy task.

That's right. The last version was a V6, wasn't it. No, not an easy task.

...there were certainly compromises to be made. this is probably one of the reasons why mazda switched to a 2.5 turbo - more space to work on within the engine bay and a simpler design = less manufacturing costs for Mazda, and the turbo makes peak torque at a much more reasonable RPM. it's a win win situation?

Probably. The OP has still lit a fire in me. I was going to my DIY shop just to do an oil change, but I think I'll spend some time under the hood getting better acquainted with the real estate market inside there and seeing just how crowded it is. Probably will give the entire engine and bay a good cleaning while I'm in there - make it sparkle a bit. Another 20 minute oil change turned into a 3hr inspection and cleaning. I already cleaned and lubed the undercar last time.

Hey, there was another member in a different thread asking about a Transmission Cooler for the new CX-9. I added that info on a workable solution for an Engine Oil Cooler would also be interesting to me. Have you seen anything that looks decent out there? If the 2.5 package is smaller, there should be room for an Engine Oil Cooler - depending on what the rest of the bay looks like.
1978 RX-3SP
So, do I upgrade the chains and ALL the related components while I have it apart. Yes, the chain streches with use but the darn water pump in the oil pan is always going to worry me. Why Mazda decided to use the Ford 3.5 and 3.7 Duratec engine with a Chevy/Ford transmission still baffles me.
Mazda CX-9 GS AWD
This forum has saved me tons of cash already on my 2010 CX-9. I diagnosed the failed transfer case in about 10 minutes, which caused a broken output shaft from the transmission.
Another thread identified the broken rear diff solenoid wire. A few hundred bucks for shop to resolder it vs. thousands the dealer wanted for a new diff.
Now, thanks for the note on the water pump. Mine failed at about 200K Km. I have a mechanic friend of mine doing the work, with engine in car. He's replacing the water pump and all the cam chains, tensioners while in there. No sense scrimping on a few parts now.
Thanks to everyone that posts this valuable information.

So far, its primarily the Ford parts which have failed.
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.
Just finished replacing timing chains, water pump and power steering pump on my 2008 CX 9 with 173,000 miles. Chain worn some but not bad. As stated on yourtube video worst part was reinstalling the power steering pump. It is a pain in the neck because I had to use a mirror to loosen and reinstall the top mounting bolt. One thing I did to help with the installation of the timing cover was to install two guide pins to ease with the alignment so as not to mess up the sealant on the block. I found two metric bolts 3" long, cut off the head, cut a screwdriver slot on the end and then tapered it round so the cover would slip over it easily. One pin was installed in one of the block top holes and the other one in one of the very bottom block mounting holes. This worked fantastic. Slid the timing cover over the pins and push it onto the two alignment dowel pins and bolted everything up. No messing up the sealant. Just my suggestion for all you do it yourselfs.
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.
What about MOCA, FoMoCo, Motorcraft, Gates or other brands regarding an Engine Timing Chain Kit for a 2011 Mazda CX-9 3.5L?

Thank you very much.
Hello friends,
I am planning to change the time chain and all its components soon.
I would be interested to know, based on your experience, which brand is the best.
I have seen the following brand kits in several videos:
Melling timing chains,
among other.

Thank you very much.