1996 Dodge Stratus Camshaft Alignment Marks

Tiny
DEVERS6
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 DODGE STRATUS
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 50,000 MILES
I am changing the head gasket on a 1996 Dodge Stratus 2.4L due to oil leak problems. I have the disassembly down to the point where I need to remove the timing belt, but I can't seem to get the alignment marks in the camshaft sprockets to line up in the center. I have rotated the crankshaft pulley multiple times and they never line up. After two revolutions of the crankshaft, the rear (exhaust?) Mark seems to be in roughly the same position as the front sprocket, almost as if the factory mounted the same sprockets on each camshaft. It looks like they have identical markings on the sprocket (on one web it says "FRONT 2.4L" and on the other is an arrow and the word "UP").

This is a low mileage car (50000 actual) that has never had any significant work done until now, so it must have come from the factory this way. It was running fine, I'm only doing the head gasket because it was leaking significant oil. Has anyone ever seen this kind of situation before? Do I have to rotate the crankshaft many, many times before they come into alignment? (I have maybe turned it 20 revolutions, all clockwise). I suppose I can get it into where I believe the correct mark should be and add my own, but I'm nervous enough about getting this right and I don't want to add any additional variables if I don't have to.

Thanks for any help,

Dave
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Friday, July 31st, 2009 AT 4:05 PM

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Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Hi:
Can you take a look at this and let me know if it is what you are dealing with? It sounds like you are one tooth out when you finish installing it.

http://www.2carpros.com/car_repair_information/year/1996/make/dodge/model/stratus/1996_dodge_stratus_timing_belt_diagram_marks.htm

Let me know.
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Friday, July 31st, 2009 AT 5:56 PM
Tiny
DEVERS6
  • MEMBER
The drawing most of the way down the page (G00256407) is the most relevant to my engine (the 2.4L is Dual Overhead Cam). My problem is that if I rotate the belt so that the right hand cam sprocket timing mark lines up in the middle, the left hand mark is not visible anywhere near the center. It is hard to tell exactly where it is, but it is somewhere on the far left hand side of the sprocket. If I rotate the belt until the left sprocket is pointing to the center, the right hand sprocket timing market is off on the far right.

If I understand this correctly, it takes two revolutions of the crankshaft sprocket to make one revolution of both camshaft sprockets. If I line up the pointer on the crankshaft, the right hand camshaft may not line up toward the center; but if I rotate the crankshaft one more revolution, the right hand camshaft mark will line up in the center. But the left hand mark never aligns with the right mark, no matter how many times I rotate the crankshaft.

As I said, this engine has never had any work done on it, so this has to be the way it came from the factory. It was running fine before I started this, and I haven't yet removed the timing belt so it is in the same alignment it had when it was running. I haven't tried to rotate the crankshaft counterclockwise because I know it can possibly cause the timing belt to jump a tooth. All my rotations have been clockwise.

If the camshafts were really as far out of alignment as they appear, I would think I would encounter resistance somewhere as things started colliding. But I can rotate it through the full cycle easily with just a 3/8" ratchet. So what it appears is that the timing marks are just meaningless as they are now (at least the one on the left hand cam sprocket). This would seem to be a factory mistake; and I'm just wondering if anyone has ever encountered a mistake like this.

I can take photos and send them if it will help make my situation clearer. Thank you for your help; this is the biggest job I have ever attempted, and I am taking it very slow to make sure I don't make any dumb mistakes. But knowing how important the timing alignment is, I'm concerned that there seems to be no way to correctly align these sprockets as they stand.
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Friday, July 31st, 2009 AT 10:28 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
I think I understand what you are saying. First, if it is in the position it was when running, make your own marks to align from. And yes, I beieve there is a 2 to 1 ratio with the sprockets.

As far as a picture, I would be interested in seeing it. It may help me figure out what is going on. But I agree with you, they should all align at the same time.
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Saturday, August 1st, 2009 AT 2:23 PM

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