Changing your car’s timing belt isn’t as difficult of a job as you might think it could be, but it is something that must be done at least once within your car’s lifespan. Most timing belts will last anywhere from about 60,000 miles to just over 100,000 miles; your car’s shop manual can give you a rough estimate when it should be replaced. For the record, timing belt failure can take place at any time, but if you keep up with your car’s maintenance trouble can be averted.
How A Timing Belt Works
As a backgrounder, a timing belt works to turn the camshaft at exactly half the speed of the crankshaft. The camshaft causes the intake and exhaust valves to open and shut in time with the engine’s pistons as they move up and down in the cylinders.
When the timing belt breaks, you won’t be able to go anywhere as the engine will no longer run. In some situations a timing belt failure could damage or even destroy a car’s engine; way too many car owners do not replace this important part until it has broken. As you can imagine, this can be a terrible problem when you are stranded and far from help.
Worn Out Belt? Not Easy To Determine!
Unfortunately, there is no iron-clad method to check that a timing belt has worn out. Instead, changing it at prescribed intervals will reduce the chance that it will break before it can be replaced. Furthermore, many mechanics will also advise changing the water pump at the same time as the timing belt – even if it hasn’t failed – as most of the labor related to replacing a water pump has already been done when changing the timing belt. This is your decision as a water pump could last as long as your car or it could fail at some point in the future. If the latter takes place, you could be faced with a significant car repair bill in addition to going through all the trouble of being without your car for several days.
Weekend mechanics often feel comfortable enough to replace their car’s timing belt without the assistance of a garage. With a trusty Haynes or Chilton car maintenance and repair manual by your side, you can lift the hood and remove and replace the timing belt (and water pump) in no time.
Shop Around And Save
You can buy needed automotive parts at a local auto parts store, shop online for parts from a wholesaler, or visit your dealer’s parts department to get what you need. Shop around — the price differential between auto parts retailers can be significant.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.