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How-To: Cruze/Sonic 1.4L Turbo LUV/LUJ Timing Adjustment

193263 Views 153 Replies 38 Participants Last post by  VegasSonic
Cruze/Sonic 1.4L Turbo LUV/LUJ Timing Adjustment

There's a surprising lack of articles on this subject, so I'm writing an article on how to adjust timing on the 1.4L Turbo. This will need to be done any time you have to remove a cam, a sprocket, or the timing chain for any reason. Most enthusiasts will need this in order to upgrade valve springs. This tutorial is designed to help you understand what needs to be done to adjust timing and in what order and assumes that you are disconnecting the camshafts. Any time the camshaft bolts are removed, timing has to be adjusted.

If you're here reading this, it is assumed you have some mechanical aptitude and aren't intimidated by removing the cams, or you can afford to have your car inoperable for a weekend. This thread is intended to help you understand the function of each of the tools you are going to be using to set the timing. Ultimately it doesn't matter how you take apart the valvetrain or in what order, but it will certainly help to move things along smoothly if you follow the order I'll describe here.

Tools Required:
- 1.4L timing tool kit. You can get this on This tool kit is absolutely required. You can find identical tool kits in blue boxes or use the Kent-Moore tool if you're lucky enough to find someone who has it or have deep pockets, but this low-cost option works perfectly.
- 22mm wrench
- Assortment of torx bits up to T50
- Ft Lb and In Lb Torque wrenches
- 24mm socket and extension

Parts Required:
- 2 x GM Camshaft Bolts, 55562224; Available on These are TTY and MUST be replaced.

In order to do this job, you will need to buy the tool kit I listed or get the Kent-Moore equivalent (for several times the cost). I've marked each of the tool with a letter to make this easier.

Tool D is the crankshaft fixing tool, which holds the crank at perfectly TDC.
Tool E is the timing chain tensioner fixing tool, which locks the timing chain tensioner in a compressed position.
Tool B is the camshaft locking plate, which holds the camshafts aligned in the correct position relative to the crank at TDC.
Tool C is the intake sprocket holding tool. This is used to hold the intake sprocket in place in addition to maintaining the correct tension on the timing chain.
Tool A is the exciter ring positioning tool. The exciter rings have grooves in specific locations which are used by the sensors on the timing cover to read camshaft position and allow the ECU to manage valve timing. The exciter rings are not marked or grooved and are held in place by the clamping force of the TTY cam bolts.

First thing you need to do is remove the valve cover, tutorial for that is here:

Once you do that, you need Piston 1 (passenger-most piston) at approximately TDC. Easiest way to do this is is to remove all of the spark plugs and stick a straw down into the piston, then turn the crank. You can use the 22mm wrench on the cam to turn it, or give the alternator pulley a good twist with your hand. When the straw is at at the top, you're at approximately TDC.

Next, we're going to use Tool D, the "crank fixing tool". Get under the car and look for the following torx plug on the forward facing side of the engine just above the oil pan. Don't need to drain oil to do this.

Remove the plug and insert Tool D to lock the crank at TDC. The tool should go all the way in as shown below. If it doesn't, reach your hand up and turn the alternator pulley until the tool slides all the way in.

Next, go to the driver side of the engine. Right above the belt, but below the crankshaft position actuator solenoid valve, you'll find another torx plug. Remove this as well.

Remove the timing chain guide (the orange plastic thing between the sprockets held down by two bolts).

Place the 22mm wrench over the cam as shown below and pull toward the front of the car to stretch the chain against the tensioner.

While holding tension on the cam, insert tool E, the "timing chain tensioner fixing tool". This part is a bit tricky since you can't see anything in there and don't even know if you're going in straight. Just keep working at it. This picture will show you where you should be going. There is an upside-down "U" shape you need to slide the pin through.

You now have the crank locked at TDC and the timing chain tensioner locked in the compressed position. You are now ready to remove the camshaft position actuator solenoid valves from the side of the engine, remove the camshaft bolts, and do whatever else you might need to. Once you remove the camshaft bolts, the sprockets will simply rest on the timing cover, allowing you to work with the rest of the valvetrain easily.

Camshaft removal and reinstall will be outlined in another thread. During disassembly, be careful to organize all of the parts you take off so they can be placed back in exactly the same location. This includes camshaft rotation, rocker arms, and bearing caps. You will need to place everything back where it was before.

Next post will describe how to set timing during re-assembly.


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Here is a picture that roughly shows what I am seeing when I try:

View attachment 299201
Hey whats up, I had this exact problem. My exhaust cam would rock over about 20 degrees after pulling the lock tool out of the grooves. In my case it was the cam phaser that had to be changed out for a new one, they aren't supposed to move until the ECU says so.

I was able to change it out without pulling the timing cover and all the bullshit incorporated with that, but I caution anyone doing this to be super careful and capable. I had to lock the crank in TDC again, as well as the chain tensioner lock. Then remove the VVT solenoid from the and of the cam along with the sensors and magnetic pick up wheel. Then finally release the cam via the cam bearing journal caps. I was able to lift the cam out and barely get the phaser out of the chain, all while being careful to keep tension on the chain so it doesn't fall off the crank sprocket. Replaced it and slid the cam back into the new one. It was extremely risky though, you really have to take care not to damage the journals, then torque them back down and re-time it.

EDET: Looking back at your picture I don't think yours is as bad as mine was. Yours could just be that you didn't pull the chain hard enough with the tool provided in the kit (I use a pry bar to crank the wedge then tighten it, your goal is to get all the slack on the chain towards the firewall side). To verify this, lock your crank at TDC, and see if you can move the cam while the chain stays stationary with an open end wrench. Don't crank it hard though, If it moves then the phaser is bad.
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No. Especially the crank lock and cam phaser magnetic locator set tool. Plus really the intake cam gear tensioner is crucial as well. Just get the kit, it's so cheap and with Amazon shipping you could get it in like 2 days.
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That is correct, the chain guide between the cam gears should remain in while inserting the tensioner pin, then you use the chain tensioner tool in it's place after you remove it on the next step. I couldn't get the tensioner pin in the way they suggested either. I ended up carefully putting an angled pry bar down the back of the chain and prying the chain inward towards the block to depress the tensioner while inserting the pin. It is concerning that your cam is rotating that much when you apply rotation to it with the open end wrench, it's not supposed to rotate independent from the cam gear. What I mean is, if your cam rotates while the gear stays stationary from the chain preventing rotation, that means your cam phaser is bad. I had this problem and couldn't get the variable cam to sync.
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I re-read your post and you said you got the tensioner pin in, my bad I misinterpreted you. I'm confused when you say the camshaft rotates a few inches past the mark once you pull on the cam with a wrench. What mark?
Ok so you are just trying to get the head off to replace the gasket, or you already have and your trying to perform the timing adjustment?
The reason I ask is because to get it off you need to take the whole timing cover off. You can do it without taking it off but it's really hard to get the timing guide pins in correctly and it's really not the proper way. For removal you lock the crank and then the cams with the bar in the driver side end of the cams. Then you completely remove the cam gears and chain, then lift it off. Here's my go to guide for all of this.

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