TDM900 : The cam-chain tensioner


Some TDM900 models from 2002 to 2004 have a problem with the cam-chain tensioner. There is no specific mileage at which the problem appears, it seems more to be linked with the way the engine is used (low rpm mainly). Anyway it all appears one day : a clicking & rattling noise coming from the cam-chain from time to time, then more frequently. When it occurs, it is time to change the tensioner asap or the cam-chain may jump, leading to a major valves failure and a hole in your wallet !

Yamaha is aware of the problem : the tensioner was changed in 2005. The new tensioner looks externally the same (although it is not) but the internal part is different : the spring and the casing are much bigger. This allows a longer travel to the shaft, which was not long enough with the old part. The part numbers were changed too : the old tensioner bears part # 5PS-12210-00, the new tensioner bears part # 5PS-12210-10 (trailing number 10 stands for modified part).

There was a similar problem with the FJR1300, the tensioner was changed in 2003.

Changing the tensioner is not taken under warranty by Yamaha, this is a source of complain but this is not the place here for that matter.

You may try to fix the problem temporarily (first chapter) or preferably change the tensioner which is not very difficult nor time-consuming (second chapter).

Fixing the problem temporarily

There you are, far away from home and that stupid thingy is starting making that weird sound ! Is there any possibility to go back home or reach the nearest Yamaha dealer without a nervous breakdown ?

1 - Put earplugs & keep on riding - not so good !
2 - Try a field repair :
• Remove the 10mm screw on the end of the tensioner
• Replace it with another screw about 1 or 2mm longer. This screw will apply some pressure on the mechanism inside the tensioner and will prevent the cam-chain from being too loose & noisy.

(image)Right : the OEM screw. Left : the replacement screw.

(image)The replacement screw on the tensioner.
• In case the new screw is a bit too long, add some washers or (really too long) add a lock-nut.
• Drive the screw until it is stopped by the internal part.
• Start the engine and tighten the screw until the clicking noise disappears.
• Do not over-tighten the screw.


Fixing the problem definitively

It takes about a quarter of an hour - including playing with the cat and a drink - the crankshaft positioning requiring the more attention.

What you need

• A cam-chain tensioner and a gasket, part numbers are : 5PS-12210-10 & 5JW-12213-00.
• A 19mm socket wrench.
• A 10mm wrench & an Allen wrench from the toolkit.
• A torque wrench.
• A small pair of pliers.
• Tea, cake and a cat.

How to proceed

(image)• Remove the timing & straight plugs on the alternator cover.
• Place the 19mm wrench on the crankshaft end.

(image)• Turn it anti-clockwise until piston #1 is at TDC on the compression stroke, align the TDC mark (see pic, "T" mark) on the generator rotor with the mark on the crankcase cover.
• Check the cylinder #1 TDC at compression stroke by turning the cranckshaft two full turns more. It is absolutely required that the cylinder #1 is at TDC at the end of compression - don't mess up with the cylinder #2 compression stroke.

Warning !

This is a very important part of the job to keep the cam-chain free of tension - TDC on the compression stroke can be found when the camshaft lobes are turned away from each other.

In case things are not OK, the cam-chain will be under full tension when the tensioner is removed, causing the admission camshaft jumping three teeth off the chain, requiring a timing check and two more hours in the garage !

If unsure, remove the camshaft cover and check the camchain timing.


(image)• The old tensioner may now be removed with one hand...

(image)...while playing with the cat with the other hand.


• Gently remove the tensioner & listen carefully for any suspect noise that may come from the cam-chain, like a jumping chain.
• In case the timing appears to be wrong, a complete camshaft timing check will be required.

(image)• Unpack the new tensioner (do not remove the flat pin on top) and the gasket, then place them on the cylinder body.

(image)• Mounting screws being assymetricaly disposed, you can't go wrong.

(image)• Tighten both mounting screws at 10Nm.

(image)• Remove the flat pin that block the internal spring. You'll hear the tensioner shaft making contact with the camchain damper with a little noise.

(image)• Place the plug-screw and tighten it at 7Nm.


• Check the timing by turning the crankshaft two full turns anti-clockwise. No suspicious move must appears.
• Replace the plugs on the alternator cover.
• Start the engine : the clicking noise is gone, time to eat some cake, drink tea and pet the cat.

Comparing the old tensioner & the new one

(image)On the left side the old tensioner with the pushing rod fully extended, on the right side the new tensioner as it comes from the box, with the pushing rod fully retracted.
The external parts of both tensioners are different : there is a 4mm length difference :
• old tensioner : 38mm (without the screw).
• new tensioner : 34mm (without the screw).
Makes checking easy without removing the parts.

(image)The old tensioner showing its internal parts. The spring seems a bit too weak and the pushing rod is too short.

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