2010 4.6 L Chain Tensioners, Guides and Phasers | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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2010 4.6 L Chain Tensioners, Guides and Phasers


Well-Known Member
November 24, 2019
Reaction score
City, State
Rockaway Beach NY
Year, Model & Trim Level
2010 Expr Ltd; 2016 XLT
My 2010 V-8 has 135,000 miles on it. The timing chains have rattled on startup since 80,000 miles. The noise always went away after a second when the tensioners pumped up. We knew the problem were the tensioner seals which bled off pressure overnight. Last month things got worse, and the truck's timing rattled once or twice when driving and threw a code. I knew this wasn't good.

So I bit the bullet and sent off a $1000 order to Tasca Ford for tensioners, valve phasers, timing chains, chain guides, phaser solenoids, crank sprocket, front seal and a handful of gaskets.

The job took fifteen hours over three days in my driveway. I watched a half dozen YouTube videos over and over for a week. Here are some notes from doing the job that can save time when your time comes:

No need to pull the radiator, hoses or drain the cooling system. There's a two-wrench set available to remove the fan and its clutch. Have patience unlocking and unplugging the electrical connectors. Use some wire to hold the harness up and out of the way of the valve covers on each side.

The right (passenger) side valve cover's rear bolt comes off with a deep socket and an extension. A Milwaukee battery powered 3/8' ratchet handle ($80) will save you enormous amounts of work on this entire job. The phaser solenoids are the thing that you'll break if you're not careful. Make sure you clear them when removing the valve covers.

Blow dirt off the top of the motor before you take the covers off. Once the covers are off, stuff rags in everything to keep the dirt and crud out of the engine. Make sure you have every cover bolt out before you try to pry the cover.

The crank pulley has no holes for a puller, and the OTC puller's claws are too deep. I cut about a half inch off them with a Dremel (one hour). The crank is not on very tight and pulls off easily. The pulley bolt isn't very tight either; I removed it with a 24" breaker bar and a $25 Amazon tool to hold the crank spokes. A compact impact wrench would be easier.

The lower power steering bolt can be reached from the front using a deep socket and an extension. There's a plastic harness clip that covers the end of the bolt that has to be plucked off first. You can see it if you look from the hood hinge.

Buy the locking tool for the phasers. It may be $12. Ford suggests removing three rockers from each side to take the spinning pressure off the cams, so they don't violently rotate when you remove the chains. I didn't do this. It's beast work. Instead I clamped a ViceGrip behind the phaser on each cam and had someone hold it while removing the chain and installing the locking tool. Then I replaced each phaser, and then the chains. If I had two locking tools it would have been easier. The right cam wants to turn, the left really didn't, but I had someone hold it anyway. MARK your cams, so you know if they slip and which way they turned if they do. A white paint market is your friend.

While you're in there check the rocker arms (valve followers) for play. Mine were all good and none made noise, so I left them.

Install the new guides, lace up the new chains, slip in the tensioner arms and then install the tensioners. Remember the block is soft aluminum and don't cross thread the tensioner bolts. I found this out the hard way and had to re-tap two of them that I started crooked under tension while rushing.

Mark the timing chain and use the camera on your phone to check the chain location on the crank pulley, as you can't see it from up above. Mark R & L on your radiator top so you're never confused.

Put some oil on the chain guides and cams before replacing the covers. I used Motorcraft parts for everything but the valve cover gaskets. I used Fel-pro for these two at 1/3 the cost and they were fine. If you fear them dropping out when replacing the covers use a dab of sealer on the backs of them. Watch those new phaser solenoids when installing the covers!

When replacing the crank, tap it on with a hammer and then you can use a thinner washer under the original bolt to pull it on. Once it's on halfway, you can replace the original thick washer. Pull it on and then replace with a new bolt.

Double check every plug and connector. I forgot to plug in the Number 4 coil. Prime the oiling system by cranking the motor with your foot to the floor until you get some oil pressure.

A very rewarding job, but lots of work. I hope a few of these tips along with some excellent YouTube videos will be all you need to help you get this job done with minimal pain.

The truck runs like new. My right chain guide was busted and both tensioners had chunks of gaskets broken off and were leaking down overnight.

Good luck, my friends. Shame on Ford for producing faulty tensioners for seven years.
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Good job

As long as you are using the OEM only timing parts you are always good to go

Ive removed the radiator for maximum crank pulley bolt impact wrench clearance

Nice. I'm gonna have to do this to mine, and soon. My stuff is noisy until oil pressure builds up. All I have to drive right now though..

Ive removed the radiator for maximum crank pulley bolt impact wrench clearance
Might be a good idea. I used a air impact when I had to change the balancer. It buzzed off way quicker than I thought running the back of the gun into my brand new OEM Ford radiator almost giving me a heart attack. It didn't leak.

Rad Mark.jpg

That dampener holding tool is great. You can buy an adjustable similar one that's not too expensive. The OTC puller didn't work for me. The fingers were too thick to get behind the spokes and had to be cut down.